Archive for October, 2010

1st Home Study Visit Scheduled!

I just heard from our social worker and our 1st home study visit will be next Friday, November 5th.  Yay!!!  I have no idea what it will entail but I’m excited to get the 1st one done.  What a great start to the weekend!

Lesson 4: Attachment

Last night we finished lesson 4 on attachment.  It was the longest lesson we’ve done so far and one that we are going to have to work on a lot when Olinnie comes home.  Attachment is forming a special relationship with a person that is based on trust.  You build an attachment with someone by doing bonding activities, then building a bond with them, and then hopefully that bond will turn into an attachment.  Attachment has a lot to do with building trust with the child by meeting their needs continually.

The majority of the lesson was focused on attachment parenting and things that we could do that would promote attachment.  They 1st shared with us that all of our parenting should take the tone of these 3 ideas:  You are good.  I will always love you.  As your parent I am competent.    They explained that we need to impart to our child that they are good; no matter what.  Which means we are not to link being good with doing good things.  They are not good because they do good things, they are good just because they are good.  So that means no more saying “Now be a good girl and listen to grandma.”  Instead we are to say “While I’m gone we need you to listen to grandma.”  This one I think is going to take some getting used to for me.  The 2nd tone is pretty self explanatory… we just need to tell them constantly and always reassure them that we love them and that we will ALWAYS love them.  The final tone for our parenting is to make sure that we always appear competent to our child.  We need to show them that we can handle everything and they have no reason to feel afraid or uneasy.  Mom and Dad can handle whatever comes our way and they are safe.

They listed several parenting strategies that will help us to from a solid attachment with Olinnie when they come home.  The 1st was wearing your children which basically means getting a good baby/toddler carrier and using it often.  “Wearing” your child helps to create bonds and thus helps with attachment.  Especially if you wear them in the front or on your hip.  They suggest that you wear them daily as you go about doing your normal activities.  It was funny, they showed pictures of people wearing their children and one picture had a Mom wearing her son on her back while she was painting a room.  Wearing your child also helps them when they are in new situations or places that are overwhelming to feel safe.

They also recommend that you co-sleep with your child when they first come home.  They said it is a great way to bond with your child and help them feel secure at night which can been a time of great stress for many children because they are separated from their parents.   Patrick has really latched onto this idea and thinks we need to let Schubie (our dog) sleep with us again so she can become more attached to us.  I however, said that Schubie had her time, she has become attached to us, and we transitioned her to her own bed at night just like we were supposed to.  Schubie is the shining example of how well this can work, but Patrick disagrees and thinks Schubie should come back to our bed.  Well see how this turns out :)

They also explained to us how “time in” is much better for our kids than “time out.”  For time out they need to be able to self regulate themselves and most of our kids when they come home just don’t have those skills yet.  So time out will not be successful.  Instead we should do time in.  Some examples of that would be a toddler who is pushing the buttons on the TV and will not stop so you pick them up and take them with you to fold the laundry.  Or a 5 year old who is fighting over a toy with their sibling, you say to them grab my belt loop and take them into the kitchen with you while you make dinner.  Basically you have the child come with you where you are going and stay with you until they’ve gotten their emotions under control.  Now sometimes when you do this the child will melt down into a full blown temper tantrum.  If that happens you again just pull them close and hold onto them and help them to clam down.  By doing this you’ll be slowly beginning to teach them to regulate their own emotions.  At 1st this sounded to Patrick and I like we were just rewarding bad behavior with time with Mom or Dad.  But they shared with us that in reality the child most likely wants to be doing whatever you just took them away from and not going with you to do your work.  So it’s not really a reward.

They also shared with us that we are to avoid power struggles at all cost with our children, but if we find ourself in one then we MUST win :)  With that being said, they shared with us that there are 3 power struggles that are impossible for us to win and we need to be aware of that.  It’s impossible for us to win a battle that involves eating, sleeping, or going potty.  Those things are completely within the child’s control and we should just avoid struggles in those areas if at all possible.

We’ve only got one more lesson and they we are done with this parent adoption class.  We’ll still have 3 lessons to complete through our agency, but the end is in sight!

A Nice Step Forward

Today I put in the mail a HUGE packet of paperwork for our home study.  We sent copies of our drivers license, birth certificates, social security cards, health insurance, marriage certificate, car insurance, Schubie’s vet records, our fire inspection, physicals done at the doctors office, Kimberly’s clearance from the GA Child Abuse Registry, an employment letter for Kimberly, copies of the last 5 years of our tax returns, and our social histories.  The social histories were books all to themselves.  Each of us had to answer 7 pages of short answer questions that covered just about every aspect of our life, from growing up until now.  It’s not all the paperwork that we need to complete our home study but it’s most of it.  I’m hoping that it’s enough of the paper work that we can begin our home visits.  We’ll need to to have 4 visits with our social worker before she can complete the home study.

Yesterday, Patrick and I had our physicals for the adoption paper work.  We had one form for the home study and one that will be a part of our Dossier that goes to China.  Our doctor’s office was AWESOME!  The forms that go to China needed to be notarized and our doctor’s office didn’t have a notary on staff, so they brought a notary in just for our appointments.  The nurse and the doctor were so nice and made sure to fill out everything just right and to write neatly on the paperwork that goes to China.  We are still waiting for blood work to come in for the China physical but otherwise our health exams for the adoption are now done too :)

Things are getting checked off our our to do list and it feels great!

A Song That Touched My Heart

As we began to research about adoption I started reading a lot of adoption blogs.  About a month ago a song by Steven Curtis Chapman popped up on several of the blogs I was reading and it brought me to tears the 1st time I heard it.  Steven Curtis Chapman has 3 biological children and then after prompting by his daughter he and his wife adopted a little girl from China.  When Love Takes You In was written, I believe, after they came home from China with their little girl.  He and his wife have gone onto adopt 2 more little girls from China and have started Shoahannah’s Hope, a national nonprofit organization that helps individuals and families pay for overseas adoptions.

I think what I love most about the song is that looks at the wait in adoption from not only the child’s perspective but also the parents too.  I know what’s it like to dream of a child you haven’t held yet and be counting to days until you get to hold them for the 1st time.

If you click on the title of the song it will take you to the you-tube video of the song.  If you’re soft hearted, you might want to have a tissue with you too :)

Olinnie

As a family we realized we didn’t really know what to call our new child to be.  We had no idea if they will be a girl, boy, baby, toddler and every time we tried to talk about them we’d get flustered and stumble over our words.  We decided we needed a temporary name for our child so we could easily talk about them.  One night before bed we were talking about this and Ariel purposed the name Olinnie.  She came up with the name by combining the name Oliver and Annie (two famous orphans) and the name has stuck.  Olinnie has become a part of our daily conversions, we pray for them every night, and we can’t wait to someday see a picture of their beautiful face :)

I’ve lived to many places

I’ve loved all the places I’ve lived but boy is it making the paper work harder for the adoption.  I need to get a letter of clearance from every state I’ve ever lived in for the Child Abuse Registry.  I think I’ve gotten all the paper work for that done for GA and MD but NJ was proving difficult.  Today my social worker emailed me with a brand new form that she just made today (after talking to officials in NJ)  so that we could request this letter from NJ.  Here’s hoping that this will all be taken care of soon!

I also need to get a local background clearance from the local police department for any place I’ve lived in the last 5 years.  OH will not be to hard, I just need to set aside time to go out to Batavia one of these days to get a letter from them and then Patrick and I can go to the local police department in Colerain for the other letter.  However, I also need a letter of clearance for Decatur, GA.  I called them this morning and they said I could not request this letter over the phone and I would have to come into the department in person.  OK, that’s not happening because it’s about an 8 hour drive one way!  After explaining this to the woman I was talking with she said my only other option is to get my adoption agency to request in writing the clearance form.  So then I starting emailing my adoption coordinator and we worked it all out so that a letter was getting sent out to them.  Whew!

Life would be much simpler right now if I hadn’t move so much.  Oh well!

Lesson 3 Done :)

Over the weekend Patrick and I finished lesson 3 of our Parent Education Class.  Our topic this time was “The Internal Alarm.”  The basic idea is that when we have a need and that need is not being met we have an internal alarm that begins to sound.  They went on to explain that the more a need is not met the sooner and easier an alarm will begin to sound.  The example they used was a child who was hungry.  At 1st their alarm would only sound when they did not get enough to eat.  However, if they continually didn’t get enough to eat then the alarm may begin to sound when they see food; even if there is enough food for them to eat that time.  It could continue even further to the point where even the smell of food would trigger the internal alarm for the child.

We learned that the internal alarm could take one of two forms.  Some kids just shut down when their alarms go off.  They become very quiet and unresponsive.  They can often be seen as either very good kids, quiet kids, or shy kids but really what is happening is their alarm is going off and they are retreating inside of themselves.  The other possibility is that when the alarm goes off we have a child who is just going crazy.  It could take the form of a temper tantrum but it could also be a child running all over the place, very talkative, and just seeming out of control (of either their body or their emotions).

They gave us 3 parenting techniques to use when our child’s internal alarms are going off.   The 1st suggestion was to avoid if possible those things that trigger the internal alarm from going off in the 1st place.  However, that’s not always possible or realistic.  So when the child’s alarm does go off we are to use “pull close” parenting.  This basically means that we are to have the child close to us, we are to hold them, and try to comfort them when they are experiencing an internal alarm.  Finally we are to parent the issue not the behavior.  It’s easy for most parents to just deal with the behavior, especially with those kids who are just out of control.  However, they explained to us that parenting the behavior is like trying to give a driving lesson to someone in the moments before a head on collision.  The child is in a state of panic and they really aren’t going to remember anything you say to them at that point.  So it is much more helpful to work with your child to try and figure out what is setting off their behavior (internal alarm) and help them process those emotions in a healthy way.

Moving Along with Parent Ed.

On Sunday night Patrick and I finished the 1st lesson in our parenting class and we both passed our quizzes, yay!  On Tuesday night we did lesson 2 “The Cycle of Need.”  Two things really stuck out to me in this lesson.  First they explained the difference between our child’s chronological age vs the real age.   They explained that all children who live in orphanages or foster care will be developmentally delayed, even if they are in a great facility, because it is just impossible for all their needs to be met.  So we learned that for every 3 months that a child spends in an orphanage you need to subtract one month from their chronological age to get their real age.   Therefore, if we were to bring home a 36 month old child (3 yrs. old) their real age would be 24 months old and we would need to parent them as if they were a 2 year old.  They also really encouraged us to let our child regress when they come home and allow them to become dependent on us.  By allowing them to do this we’ll be filling in areas of need that were not met in them before and actually better preparing them to be healthy independent children when they get older.

The 2nd thing this lesson really stressed was that Patrick and I need to establish ourselves as the primary care givers.  When we 1st come home it needs to be only Patrick and I that meets all of our child’s needs.  This will help us all to bond and also begin to build trust between us and our child.  Also by us being the only ones to meet all of our child’s needs we’ll begin to teach them that we are the parents and we are different than other adults that are in their life.  The final thing that was interesting to hear is that there is really no such thing as spoiling an adopted child when they 1st come home.  It’s very important to meet all their needs right away because they’ve lived for such along time with their needs not always being meet.  Now that’s not to say that you give in to all their wants; it’s just that you always meet their needs and give them as much love and attention as you can right from the start.

Fire Inspection Done!

The last few days I’ve been getting the house ready for our Fire Inspection that we needed for the home study.  On Monday I went out and bought 5 brand new smoke detectors.  I was told that one of the new detectors had to be an ionization and photoelectric detector because they could detect fires up to 30 mins. earlier.  I was also told that the rest of the detectors could be cheap ones as long as they were all under 8 years old.  So yesterday I installed all our new smoke detectors by myself while Patrick was at work.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I used Patrick’s drills and put them all up on the celling.

The fire detector that I installed on our bedroom ceiling.

Now today when they came and did the inspection we passed but I was told that all but one of our smoke detectors are really cheap and no good.  Ugh!  I’m glad we passed but it stinks to hear that all the money we just spent was on detectors that they consider no good when they told me last week it was OK to get cheap ones for all the bedrooms.  Oh well, what are you going to do!

Another thing I had to do for the inspection was draw out an evacuation plan for the house and mark all the exits.  Check out my plan…

Now it’s not a master piece of artwork, but it got the job done :)  We had to post the plan in the kitchen and also in our new child’s room.  Patrick and I found that REALLY funny.  We’re going to be bringing home a child between the ages of 1 and 3 who if they know a language it will be Chinese.   I’m not sure they are going to be able to read our plan, but oh well it’s in their room just in case.

The final thing I’ll say about the Fire Inspection is that we had to child proof all the electrical sockets in the house and put safety latches on any cabinets that hold chemicals.  It was a little surreal for me to put all these things in our house.  It makes it all that more real that sometime in the near future we’ll have a little one running around in the house!

Lunch & Fingerprints

Today I  picked Patrick up from work so we could eat lunch together and get our BCI & FBI fingerprints done for our home study.  I had made us appointments to get them done at 11:45 at a place called National Background Check, Inc that does electronic prints and boasts about how fast you can get in and out.  Well we got there a little late and they had gone to lunch.  So we went to lunch too and went back up after we ate.  Fortunately, there wasn’t a long line and we were able to get in and out of there in about 15 minuets.   If all goes well the results should be to our social worker by the end of next week!

On my way home I stopped by the fire department to fill out a request to have a fire inspector come out to our house to do a fire inspection.  Before I left they went over the list of things they would check for so we could make sure we had everything ready when they came out which was awesome.  I’d much rather pass this inspection on the 1st try :)  It looks like we will be buying all new smoke detectors this weekend because you can’t have any that are more than 8 years old.  I also learned that it’s no longer enough to have a smoke detector on every floor; you now must also have one in every bedroom.  So it looks like we’ll be adding some safety to our house as well.

Adoption Timeline
  • Summer 2010 - started talking about adoption
  • Aug 19, 2010 - participated in webinar
  • Sep 22, 2010 - mailed in adoption application
  • Sep 28, 2010 - adoption application accepted
  • Oct 8, 2010 - fingerprints for home study
  • Oct 14, 2010 - fire inspection done
  • Oct 25, 2010 - Patrick & Kimberly complete physicals for the adoption
  • Nov 4, 2010 - finished Heart of the Matters Parent Education
  • Nov 9, 2010 - Ariel's physical is completed
  • Nov 15, 2010 - 1st Home Study Visit
  • Dec 10, 2010 - Kimberly's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 16, 2010 - Patrick & Ariel's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 19, 2010 - Received rough draft of Home Study to review
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Received Final Home Study
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Sent I800A form into USCIS
  • Jan 18, 2011 - We see our son's face for the 1st time!
  • Jan 21, 2011 - Submit Letter of Intent to China
  • Jan 27, 2011 - Receive Pre-Approval from China
  • March 7, 2011 - I800a approval
  • March 24, 2011 - Dossier to China
  • April 2, 2011 - Log In Date
  • May 16, 2011 - LOA
  • June 2, 2011 - I800 Approval
  • June 10, 2011 - Cable sent by National Visa Center
  • June 13, 2011 - NVC Letter & final paper work sent to Agency!!!!
  • June 23, 2011 - Article 5 papers dropped off
  • July 8, 2011 - Article 5 pick up
  • July 19, 2011 - Travel Approval!!!!!!
  • August 15, 2011 - Forever Family Day!!!!!!
  • August 25, 2011 - Arrive home; Xander becomes a US citizen :)