Thursday, January 15, 2015

Exactly 1 year ago today (1/15/14), I sent this email to the director of Reece's Rainbow:

"OK, I had a big heart-to-heart with my husband again, and he said "let's go for it". So.... Deep breath, this is scary....What is the next step towards committing to Eden?
We live in Massachusetts. I have no idea where to begin!
-  Kerri

What a year it's been!  :)

Status Update:

Tomorrow is the Article 5 hearing (on our behalf) at the Embassy in Sofia. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Long Awaited Blog Update

Clearly I am not good at blogging frequently!
I would have, but I didn't feel like I had anything deep and meaningful to share publicly.
Quick time line update = 1st round dossier submitted and accepted -> Amazing Trip #1 (Metcha Trip) in November ->  2nd round dossier almost complete - > LOTS of waiting..... Hopefully Trip #2 (Gotcha Trip) by April 2015.

The following is an exerpt from an essay that I wrote the other day for a grant application.  Since I put some time into typing it up, I figured that I would share it here too! :)

My name is Kerri, and my husband, Dan, and I adopting the most amazing little girl I have ever met. Let me tell you about the journey I have been on this past year. Actually, the story begins long before this year, long before I met Dan, and long before I was ready to have a child of my own. The story begins at least 10 years ago, when I used to watch "The Adoption Story" show on TLC, and would find myself sobbing happy tears for the families landing back in the USA with their babies. I knew all those years ago that I would be one of those families one day. I knew that someday, no matter who else was in my life, I would find my baby somewhere on the other side of the world. Fast forward to 2009 when I met and fell in love with not only Dan, but his 2 children, "R" and "E". I will admit that one of the aspects of Dan that made me agree to that first date, was that he had the most beautiful daughter who happened to have Down Syndrome. While these beautiful step-children are an amazing bonus to my life, they are also a source of much sadness, as their mother has done everything in her power to isolate me from them. It has been made abundantly clear that "I am not their mother." This feels like a knife to my soul, as I would give anything to have my own babies to hold and I'm not even permitted to freely love my own step-children.
Dan and I were married in 2011 and then it was my time to have a baby of my own. After many months of not getting pregnant, I started looking at adoption web sites. I have been hesitant to pursue fertility testing, because I would so much rather put my time and energy into looking for babies that are already born and need mammas, then trying to make one that wasn't naturally meant to be. I honestly have no idea if I have medical fertility issues, or not? Maybe it's Dan? Either way, I knew that not getting pregnant easily meant that maybe my baby from the other side of the world was already waiting for me. Imagine my surprise when one day back in January, I was scanning through pictures of waiting children with Down Syndrome, and I saw my baby! I knew she was my baby, and I knew that it didn't matter where she was, I had to go get her!
The past 12 month have been much like everyone else's journey with international adoption. Lots of paperwork and lots of waiting. The highlight has obviously been the trip we took in November to meet our little girl, at her orphanage. This is the part of the story that even I find the most amazing. I walked to an orphanage in a small city, in a country far away, expecting to find a sad scared child, who had spent her entire almost 3 years living without a family. To my surprise, I was handed this tiny little bundle if happy sassy charisma. My baby girl has moxie! She has a smile that lights up not only her whole face, but the whole room. She is smart and resilient.
She has very low muscle tone, but despite not being able to even crawl yet, she has no problem, rolling and scooting herself towards whatever it is that she wants... usually my husband's cell phone! She doesn't speak actual words yet, but even with a language barrier, she had no problem getting her opinions heard, loud and clear. My baby girl is phenomenal, because this is who she is with no help at all. Can you imagine who she will become with some help? Once she has a mom and dad to help her build muscle tone and learn how to express herself with actual words, the sky will be the limit. My baby girl will go places!   

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shooting Stars

               My nephew passed away yesterday.  Connor was 14 and the eldest of my brother’s 6 kiddos.  He was also the first/oldest grandchild of both my parents and my sister-in-laws parents.   Connor was a shooting star.  Born with septo-optic dysplasia, Connor had more than his fair share challenges.  The hardest part about his passing, was that it was sudden, unexpected, and seemingly unrelated to his medical conditions.  In the midst of coming to terms with this new reality without Connor, I find myself thinking about “why” we are so looking forward to the addition of our new munchkin.  I doubt that I really need to explain it to most of the people reading this blog, but I think I may need to explain it to myself? If that makes sense?

                When I first went public with our adoption, I had a number of “why would you do this?” questions posed by both friends and family.  Why would you put so much time and effort into bringing a child into your family, who you already know has so many challenges?   I didn’t have a perfectly choreographed answer in place at that time, but as I became less defensive, I was more able to explain why.  At this point in time, this is my answer:  In a purely selfish way, I want my world to be a better place.  Special people make the world a better place, and I want that in my life.   
               Clearly that’s not the only reason we are adopting.  Obviously, there’s the biological need to be maternal.  There’s also the fact that a beautiful little girl is sitting in a crib in an orphanage, desperately needing a family.   In addition, there’s the logic that my step-daughter with Down Syndrome will have a little sister who shares some of her challenges, and with whom she can face the world together.   But, the selfish part is that I want what other parents of special needs kids have.  I want to value the little things more.  I want to be forced to slow down and just breathe.  I want to know that my child makes a difference in the world, not because she will become a brain surgeon, but because she will inspire other people’s children to become brain surgeons. 

                We live in an era when science has become so advanced that early detection of many disabilities prevents them from presenting in the way that they did, even 50 years ago.  We also live in a time when “no child left behind” assures that ALL children are allowed and encourage to excel to the best of their ability.  It’s a strange intersection that results in less people being born with disabilities into a world that encourages those with disabilities to be able to reach goals never before considered attainable.  It’s a weird contradiction?  As a society, we are far more excepting of the people that we are far more likely to prevent from existing?   Why do we do this?  Why?  No seriously, I’m asking, why?

                There are a couple things I do know:  Connor made all the people around him better human beings.  Connor loved juice.  Connor loved pop songs, but HATED the “Happy Birthday” song.  Connor will be truly and honestly missed by more people than he even knew.  I love you Buddy!  I’m sorry that your newest cousin won’t get to know you, but you will always be remembered!  You did a great job living your life.  Like a shooting star, you stood out from the rest and we will love you forever!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blog Number Two ...

Humm…… Not sure where to start.  I know that I need to write another blog entry, and I know what I need to write about, but I’m not sure I want to.  There was a very real reason that I haven’t made a second blog entry in the past month and a half.  I was very excited to “blog” on a regular basis, not because I felt that I really had anything enlightened to say, but rather that maybe other people on this same journey could identify with me, and visa versa.  The reason that I haven’t made a second entry, was that I was scared that I had messed up, and that maybe this journey had come to a screeching halt before it really ever started.  I was scared that if I talked about the “hiccup” in the process that maybe it would not be able to be fixed.  Not only was I going to lose my little girl, but because I had “over-shared” our plans, I was going to have to tell a million people that I messed up, and wasn’t adopting her after all.  I was scared to say that it was my fault, because I try so hard to do everything right, and messing up is simply not tolerated. 
So what did I do so wrong....?  I completely bombed our 3rd (and supposedly final) home study meeting.  I won’t get into the details, but let’s just say that as I watched the conversation spiral out of control, I burst into tears, and the social worker said that we couldn’t proceed with the home study until my husband and I met with a marriage counselor a few times.   The floor fell out beneath me.  I bawled for about 6 hours and then finally went to bed.  The next day I called 6 marriage counselors, and the first to call me back was actually my initial first choice.  She had an opening 3 days later….. longest 3 days ever!  I needed to get this fixed.  I needed to fix this before anyone found out.  I needed to keep on my time line, because time is critical when your child is stuck on the other side of the world, without you.  I wasn’t going to fail her before I even had the chance to hold her.  I couldn’t let her suffer because I messed up.  I would fix this!

Fast forward six weeks.  It has been fixed.  I think.  Our social worked just left, after what was now the final home study meeting.  She seemed happy.  She said that we were good.  She said that because we so eagerly agreed to meet with a marriage counselor and work through what she saw our issues to be, that she was comfortable with us again.  I hope.  I still won’t breathe easy until the home study is actually written up. 

So now I blog.  I hope no one else has to identify with this.  I do have to sincerely thank whomever it was on Facebook that pointed out marriage counselors are not a bad thing.  It those first days between “the incident” and the first marriage counselor meeting, I simply asked on the RR Facebook page if anyone’s social workers had suggested marriage counseling.  Thankfully, all the comments were positive and helpful, even if no one really knew the reason I was asking.  You were right, marriage counselors are great!  She was wonderful.  In hind sight, this “hiccup” was probably one of the better things to happen in our marriage.  Well, maybe that’s a stretch, but it wasn’t nearly the worst thing.  We are back on track.  I don’t think it effected our time line.  My munchkin will still be mine!  I hope…

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sounds Crazy Out Loud!

  This is my first time blogging, so here it goes!
I was encouraged to start a blog to allow everyone to follow our adoption journey.  While this journey is just beginning, it is not the first "crazy" journey I've been on.  I discovered a long time ago, that there are many things in my life that seem perfectly normal to me, but not always to other people.  Things sound normal to me, because I tend to roll them around in my head A LOT before the ideas come out of my mouth.  By the time my plans are set into motion, the concept has been well thought out, with potential pit falls considered and expectations already set.  I tend to be a "big picture" person, and have always set long term goals for myself.  This contributes to the feeling of "normalcy" that my plans have to me, in my head.  This issue really arises when these plans are spoken out loud for the first time.  Without fail, most of my plans sound absolutely crazy when I say them out loud! 
    If you have been through the adoption process already, and you are reading this blog to see what the "newbie" has to say, then please don't take offence to this.  For the rest of you reading this, who are just starting to consider adoption, try doing this with a straight face.... out loud.... "Hey Mom and Dad, guess what?, I'm adopting an orphan with Down Syndrome from a 3rd world country!"  (Insert some laughter here!)  I'm not trying to imply that this is a bad idea or even an original idea, because it is not.  However, unless you come from a family of adopted orphans, it's not a sentence that rolls off the tongue of 99.9% of the population.  Point blank, IT SOUNDS CRAZY OUT LOUD!!