Sunday, December 5, 2010

Inner Strength and Hard Lessons

One of the things I have been struggling with while working with DCS has been my unwillingness to work with them before I had my Fifi and Buddy. I did go to an information meeting, but I quickly realized there was no way I would be able to do it. I couldn’t risk giving my heart to a child I might not get to keep. I wouldn’t risk my own broken heart, even to save theirs.

So I got on a plane and went far, far away to find the most “sure thing” adoption I could find. And I loved it. I loved Russia and the travel. I loved the people in Russia. I loved my babies’ squishy little cheeks and bobbly heads. And I really loved that the minute we lifted off the runway toward home when I knew they were mine forever.

If the dollar weren’t weak. If the cost of another adoption from Russia weren’t so out of control and out of reach. If I was independently wealthy, I’d go back. In a heartbeat. I say to myself that I wouldn’t. That the price is so high it boarders on child trafficking. But I know in my heart if I could do it, I would do it again. But I can’t. And I’ve made peace with that. Mostly.

But I worry too. My children have changed so much in my life…and fortified my heart. They have helped me understand that loving a child will always be a benefit to that child. Any time spent in a functional, loving environment will make a difference to them, even if that family isn’t theirs to keep.

But while I worry less about my heart break and I worry more about Fifi and Buddy. I’ve explained the differences to them. They understand about their birthmothers and they know they lived first in a baby house in Russia until I came for them. They understand the children who come to live with us may not stay…that in this country the children stay with families instead of in a baby house, until their families can care for them or new parents are found. They understand this in theory, but I am worried about how they will handle saying goodbye to a friend. And if they can embrace a new brother or sister after thinking of them as just a visitor.

But as I laid awake last night I remembered that my job as their mother—their adoptive mother in particular, is not only to teach them how to love. While it might not always seem so, learning to love someone is the easy part. The other thing I must teach them if they are to become happy adults with healthy relationships, is how to let go.

Parents teach this to children without ever really thinking about it. I mean, the entire gold fish and hamster industry exists so that kids are exposed to death. Why else would parents choose such fragile pets with short life expectancies? Why not a turtle or a parrot? Because you don’t want their first experience with death to be Grandma or Grandpa or even Great Aunt Mildred.

As much as I want to protect them from anyone and anything that might cause them pain, I know I can’t do that. Moreover, I know I SHOULDN’T do that. My children need to learn to handle the painful situations that come to every life without turning to drugs or alcohol or other unsafe behavior. They need to know they will feel pain, but it will subside in time. They need to learn to grieve, understand its okay to cry and in the end, learn to let go.

As much as I hate it, I need to allow them to find and cultivate their own inner strength because it will always be there for them—even when I won’t.

Being a foster family will do help me teach them an important life lesson...and help another child have a life.  Seems like a win-win situation to me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The flu and growing up...

Every now and then we have those weeks that just knock the stuffing out of you. Literally. That was last week. We all had the flu.

While I wouldn’t want to go through that again, being home for four days with the kids did have it’s moments…good ones, too. J We laid around, watched movies and played games. Saturday we finally all felt well enough to venture our and after I got home from my last foster parent training class we went to the movies.

We saw Bedtime Stories and Fifi found it hysterical. She laughed all of the way through, but especially at the Guinea Pig. It had great big buggy eyes and every time it would come on she would dissolve in giggles. She’s also starting to get more of the humor. I love Disney movies for many reasons, but my favorite is the way the layer the humor. As you get older different parts of different movies are funny. This time, Fifi was laughing at the parts I was laughing at as well as the parts the kids find funny.

My baby is growing up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


FAKT class number 2 was on Saturday. I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Buddy had a ear infection mid-week and Fifi had the stomach flu on Friday, but it all worked out.

One more week of FAKT training then on Saturday of CPR, First Aid and Blood Bourne Pathogens. After that there are two evening trainings regarding adoption and the homestudy.

I'm really still just out of the starting gate, but it feels good to be making progress. The weird part about this foster to adopt thing, is the uncertainty of it all. You'd think, two adoptions in, I'd be used to uncertainty. That's true to an extent, but with Russia, both times I was fairly sure at the end of it all there would be a child. But now, there are no such guarentees. I have no idea if I will ever be matched with a child at all, let alone one I get to keep.

The waiting will always be a struggle for me when it comes to this or any adoption process...but I'm working on it.

"For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted. me what I asked of Him." -- 1 Samuel 1:27

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sleepless nights and my favorite adoption quote...

Buddy has been been up at night a lot this week. He has an ear infection and he's been having "growing pains" in his legs. After a couple of sleepless nights, I'm pretty much "knackered" as my New Zealand friends would say.

Last night I was up with Buddy until the wee hours of the morning. He's got a bad infection and Mommy is bleary eyed today. He's been to the doctor and he's on the mend with hardly a hitch.

Thinking about sleepless nights got my thinking about my favorite adoption quote...

"Our children are not ours because they share our genes...they are ours because we have had the audacity to envision them. That, at the end of the day...or long sleepless night, is how love really works." --Anonymous

I love that word. Audacity. President Obama used it in his book, "Audacity of Hope" which someday I hope to have a spare moment to read. Maybe when the kids are in middle school. defines it as: au⋅dac⋅i⋅ty  [aw-das-i-tee] –noun, plural -ties. 1. boldness or daring, esp. with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.

Adoption is not for those who can easily accept the status quo but for those who are not bothered by challanging it. We have the courage to do what others would not or would only imagine. That's what most of us who adopt, do. Especially those of us who adopt on our own. Single parenting is not for the faint of heart or faith. It is also not for those who require great amounts of sleep!

But it is for those of us to dream of a life bigger than the one we have--for those of us who, though not unafraid, still search for our own dream and build our lives as we envision them.

I'm finding that each time is a little different and takes a different kind of courage. The first time it was mainly fear of the unknown. The second time it was mostly fear of how this new child would effect the one I already had and the fact he was a boy. I haven't had such a great track record where men are conserned :-)

This time its all a lot calmer and I am worrying less. If my children have taught me anything, it is to have faith and hold on for the ride.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Blogger is hating me today.

The post I worked on last night for an hour didn't post this morning as I had planned.

I did have a bit of good news though. The Case Worker at DCS is processing my paperwork today. She said it looks really good. Only one paper was included that didn't need to be and she is going to send that back to me so I can send it to the correct place.

The only thing I have left to do it finish up the training and have the two homestudy meetings. One will be at the social workers office and one will be at the house with the kids.

I'm a little nervous about that one. Not about the house, or the kids...but in 10 years of adopting and post placements, I've only ever worked with Ruth, our beloved social worker/mentor/now friend. Ruth and I were always on the same page when it came to my family, the roll of God in creating it and pretty much everything else. Now there's going to be somebody new to get to know. I have to trust that's going to go fine. I'm finding it easier to maintain calm so far. :-)

I'm still a control freak when it comes to the paperwork and getting things done but I am working on having faith it will all be done in the right amount of time to find the child waiting for us.

I'm breathing deep and trying to enjoy the process. So far so good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Little Less Freaky

Saturday was my first "FAKT" class. FAKT stands for Foster Adopt Kinship Training. I was dreading the time away from the kids and pretty much dreading the class. I mean, I've adopted and parented two children for quite some time now. I really didn't think they had much to teach me.

And maybe they didn't really. Most of the information I've heard before. But there was one really neat bonus.

Adoption is a very solitary process. I did the paperwork alone, the homestudy alone and for the most part, the waiting alone. My family tried to be supportive, but they really couldn't understand what I was going through. Especially the first time, I made friends on line to share the horrible wait. I went on my first trip for Sophie alone and both trips for Max were by myself.

It was cool to be with a group of people all wanting the same help children. There were folks there who wanted only to foster, but most of the people there are hoping to adopt. Most in the same age range as I am. That doesn't bode well for my chances of being placed with a newborn with all of those couples, but instead of filling me with dread, I'm okay with it. For today, I'm just going to enjoy the company.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Today I received the first criminal clearance back for foster care. One hurdle down and hundreds more to go. I'm not good at this part of the process...the hurry up and wait part.

I'm GREAT at completing paperwork. Give me a task to do and I'm happy. Make me feel like I'm accomplishing something or getting closer to my child and I'm ecstatic.

Wasted time, wasted efforts = waiting longer and my child waiting longer and I'm grumpy.

People always say how "lucky" I was to get to pick up my kids when they were only 8 months old. That is almost unheard of when you're adopting from Russia. Now, it's not even legal as the kids need to stay on the registry far longer. And I was lucky, but I was also determined. I never wasted a moment or an opportunity. I had my friend become a notary, purchased a fax machine and opened a FedEx account. I could have any document completed and appostiled at the Secretary of States office in two days, one if I drove it there.

I took the paperwork WITH me on trip one that most people came home and spent a month or more working on after their return. That meant I picked my son up when he was eight months and one day old. The couple I traveled with one trip one waited six months longer because they got caught up in a reorganization.

There is so little any Adoptive Parent can control in the process of adoption. For us control freaks, that's a challenge. I have a very funny story about control and what I learned about it on the way to pick up my son. I'll tell you about it tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Competition for Children

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, thinking about a third child. I decided on Foster Care and I still feel good about that so far. I feel like there is another child our there for's just a matter of finding him or her.

But even in foster care there is competition. These children are placed in your home expressly because there is not a parent or family member to properly care for them. It seems crazy to me that it is so cutthroat. The truth is, the younger, the healthier and the whiter a child is, the more they are in demand. Fees are high and the competition is fierce for a healthy caucasian newborn. Frankly, ranking high in any one of this seemingly "golden triad" is going to cost you. Only the creme de la creme of adoptive parents are going to even get a shot.

That's not a pretty statement. I recoil as I type it, but in my opinion, it happens to be true. I'm caucasian and have mostly caucasian children. Most people would think I went to Russia because that was important to me. Truth be told, Russia was not my first choice, but my third and I went there because I'm single and they said yes.

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit the fact my children and I look alike didn't make our lives easier. My children and I are very proud they are adopted and proud of their Russian heritage. But I have to admit that sometimes you want your life to just be your life. Sometimes you just want to get groceries without some nice Grandma lady asking you if you know who their "real" mother is.

Theres a lot of people who have a lot to say about cross-cultural adoption and I admit I can see all sides of the arguement. I have never cared about the race of my children. They could have been pink and purple polka dot for all I cared. BUT there's more than just what I want, to consider. My children were given up at birth, lived in an orphanage before moving half way around the world to be raised by a single mother. Would it have been fair to me to throw the race card in there as well? I don't know.

While race and gender are still non-issues to me, what is important to me this time around, is their age. Most parents want younger children and I understand. I do too. But of course in my head my reasons are better. I'm more justified. Just as, I'm sure, every other prospective parent feels like their reasons are more important.

Being a single mom, I feel it is only fair to the children I have and the child I may add to our family keep within some parameters. As much as I wish there weren't any. I wish I could parent any child--every child, but I know that's not possible as much as I'd like to. One of the hardest parts of being a parent, I have learned, is to know your limitations.

At this point in my life, I think any new child should be a young as possible. I don't want to upset the birth order of my kids and at 4 and 7, they're still young. They are still too vulnerable to a child who's tragically been forced to grow up too quickly.

My Case Worker literally rolled her eyes when I answered the question of age. I don't care about gender, race, religion etc. etc. I'm willing to consider many special needs and medical conditions. But I really don't feel like I can budge on age. I realize she probably hears a lot of that.

Many parents want infants and toddlers and I found myself apologizing for my choices. But I don't think I should have to. I know what's right for my family. I will stick to my guns on that because it's important. My first and foremost responsibility is to the children I have already promised to care for.

I fear in the end the placement of a child in this family will come down to a fight and I dread it. I still don't know if I'll go a few rounds or walk away. It's not that I wouldn't fight to the ends of the earth for my kids, I just wish there was a system where I didn't have to. Maybe it's naive to think we could all work together and make this world a better place for children, but I can still pray for it. As my Dad used to say, I always want "sunshine and roses on rainy day." But why not? Don't we parents who long for children deserve that? Moreover, don't the CHILDREN deserve it?

I know I don't get out much and the only movies I've seen in years in an actual theatre have been rated G. But I love movies made for children. My favorite quote lately is from Katie, in Horton Hears a Who.

Katie says: "In my world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies."

That sounds good to me too.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good things come in threes...

Today I got the best news, but first a bit of back ground.

I grew up in a small town with family everywhere. In particular, I grew up with two cousins, both girls and we were all born within a year of each other. We were all close growing up and they were both in my wedding.

We grew up and our lives have taken us in different directions, but I still love them both dearly.

Today I found out they are both expecting! Here's to hoping I am, too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. There's a reason they say good things come in threes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The BIG Announcement is...

that Fifi, Buddy and I are hoping to add another child to our family!

Unfortunately, we don't have the resouces to be able to return to Russia for a third (actually 5th and 6th) time. But instead we've embarked on a new journey. I'm currently (officially) in the process to foster/foster to adopt through my local county Department of Children's Services.

To tell you the truth, I'm a bit afraid of the whole process and spend most of my time imagining adorable children given to more worthy couples. Like elementary gym class I envision being the last one picked. But I'm trying to have faith that this is the process and the time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What we expect...

I was thinking today about the book series "What to Expect" You know, When You're Expecting, The Toddler Years etc. (There should be an adoption one, but that's a whole different topic)

I was thinking about what I expected before I adopted. I just can't remember. I think I just had fuzzy visions of my daughter and I snuggled up in a rocking chair. But now as I ponder a third adoption, I realized how much my expectations have changed. I guess the thing about children, is that you should expect anything.

Now, while I still expect late night cuddles and milky kisses, but I'm more realistic. The now-experienced adoptive mommy I've grown to be, expects them to have trouble adjusting, that they will misbehave at times, be funny, make me laugh, make my cry, break my heart while they're making it sing.

I expect they will knock over their milk at dinner, refuse to eat their green beans, make me hand prints for mother’s day, pick me dandelions, be afraid during thunderstorms, make a mess with their toys, fight with their siblings. I expect they will need help, love, understanding and guidance to reach their potential and grow to be whatever God has planned for them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back to our regular scheduled programing...

Last week's topic went a little around the bend, so I guess I'll come back to what we were talking about last week. Just to refresh your memory and mind, it was the decision to adopt vs. the motivation to adopt.

When I first thought about it, I assumed they were pretty much the same thing. But the more I though about it, the more I realized that they were pretty different.

I've been considering for some time, adopting another child. But I hadn't really made a decision or been motivated to do much about it. When I starting looking serously, I realized that the prices had dramatically increased these last four years...and they had certainly out paced my income.

International Adoption is pretty much just out. There is no way I can afford any programs that I am eligible for, being single.

I'm considering foster to adopt and Domestic African American adoption. Both make me nervous. Foster to Adopt because it might not work out and if I didn't it would probably break my heart and AA adoption because birth mother's choose the parents.

It just brings back visions of elementary school gym class and always being chosen last :-)

But serously, the thought of competing for a child makes me nervous and I'm not sure it's for me.

For right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what path God has waiting for us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Report Card Day

There is nothing so scary than report card day when you are a little kid. Even if you know you've been doing well, its still scary.

Well, today was that day in the Sellers' household. Fifi played it cool. After school I asked her about her report card and she handed it over, seemingly unbothered, and ran off with her friend who was visiting after school.

I opened the envelope and peered inside, my heart thudding as if the grades on the form were my own.

Her report card was perfect. Not just really good, but altogether no grade less than the best. I knew it would be very good, so I wasn't really surprised. She's an extremely bright little girl who loves school. But perfect. That caught me by surprise.

Then I remembered a day six years ago when a Doctor measured her head and looked at me with a look of pity before advising me I should start thinking about my options for custodial care. In his opinion she would never be able to function independently. Her head was too small for her to have an IQ in the normal range. She'd never, ever read. He said her head would not grow normally, never catch up and never hit the dreaded "growth curve."

And he was right, sort of. Her head never did hit the curve, but now she is seven they've stopped measuring it, there is no curve anymore. I've even stopped measuring it. :-)

Her IQ is higher than most, she's reading chapter books in first grade and has just brought home a report card that put a tear in her mother's eye.

What a girl I have. What a lucky, lucky Mommy I am.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Random Musings

Since I wandered off plan yesterday, I decided to keep on going. That's when all of the best things happen anyway, don't you think? I mean...the kids and I have the best times, the most fun when we just get in the car and drive. You never quite know where we're going to end up. We've been to really cool places we didn't know were even there because we picked a direction and used the GPS to find cool things along the way. A few weeks ago we found the greatest children's museum, we've been to county fairs, general stores and flea markets. (Buddy was very upset not to find fleas shopping there) We've been to the Pickle Festival, the Marshmallow Valley Fest and Turtle Days. The world is full of wonder and there's always a cool place to stop for ice cream on the way home.

But that's kind of like life isn't it? When I was a little girl, I'm pretty sure I never curled up under my covers at night and dreamed of being a sleep deprived single mom. I'm sure I never fathomed I'd cross several continents and theBut that's the path I followed and I wouldn't change it. Even for a double scoop of mint chocolate chip. I've found some pretty wonderful things along the way, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Family Day!

Something seems to have gone wonky with blogger (operator error?) and the post I’d planned seems to have gone MIA.

So instead of continuing our regular programming…I’ll just say today is my son’s family day.

Some people call it "Gothcha Day" or "Adoption Day", but each year, like other families, we celebrate the day my kids entered our family. Generally it’s pretty low key. We go out to eat at their choice of restaurant and the kids receive a small treat like flowers or balloons.

I try to make it not be another “birthday” with a party and presents, but a deeper, closer family time. Their birthdays, while a celebration for them, are bittersweet for me. Because it is on that day I know their birthmothers are thinking about them and wondering where they are and what they’re doing. It is a reminder for me that this life I love is built on someone else’s sacrifice. Someone else’s tears.

But for me, their family days are pure joy. It was the day my dreams came true.

I love to hear about other families traditions. How do you/will you celebrate?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Decisions vs. Motivations

I was thinking about how different people's decisions to adopt are and I realized something I don't think about much and that's the motivation behind adoption.

Looking back, there were different motivations for different adoptions. And even more, there was more than one motivation for each adoption.

First and foremost, my motivation to adopt centered around wanting to be a mother--wanting to parent. I wanted that more than anything and looking back, it's what got me through the process. Is that need to parent, that literal ache in your arms for wanting to hold you child. Is that biological? Are we hardwired to feel it? Is it to insure the propigation of the species? Or is it more spiritual. Does the desire to mother (or father) a child come from God?

However, wanting to be a mother, while a good motivation, couldn't have been my only one, could it? If I wanted to be a mom I could have (maybe) had a birth child, married a man with children, become a foster parent, or big sister. I chose adoption, moveover, international adoption, as my method to form my family...and there were a couple of reasons.

I'm going to talk about then rest of them this week.

Adoption Story with a Twist

Today's story is from a dear friend of mine. She accompanied me on my adoption trip to pick of Fifi. Thank God she did. I was completely inexperienced and had no idea how to take care of an infant! I'll owe her forever. There's no one I'd rather have spent this most precious of times with than my oldest and dearest. Here's her story.

Julie is a friend of mine and has been for 27 years. I think what she is doing with this adoption blog is great and I am very proud of her. I am proud of her for taking her life in her own hands and not waiting for that prince to come to start her own family. When she first told me that she was thinking about adopting, I thought it was great, but then I wondered if she had thought this through. This isn't like going out and buying a new sweater, this is a decision that affects the rest of your life! She was going to be responsible for another human being, she was single and she wanted it! I was there with Julie as she went through the process to get Fifi.

I couldn't believe all the hoops they made Julie go through just to get a kid, when there are thousands of them out there. Julie went through every hoop they threw at her, and it seemed like it took forever! Finally she was on her way to Russia to meet her daughter. I could hardly believe she was going to Russia! It is so far away from where she grew up in NW Indiana. Who from our area went to Russia, let alone to adopt as a single parent. WOW! Julie came back with stories of what she saw, pictures and video of HER daughter.

The hard part, we found out later, was yet to come. THE WAIT! Julie was going nuts waiting to go back to get Fifi. She was visiting me one day when she said that I should go back with her to get Fifi. Yeah right! Me, a SAHM with two little ones of my own, leaving my midwest little town to go to Russia, that would never happen. Well, my husband thought it would be an experience of a lifetime and felt I should go. Next thing you know, I am getting a passport (something I thought I would never have), making arrangements to have my kids taken care of while I was gone, leaving lists for the hubby and packing. This helped give Julie something else to focus on during the wait, getting me ready to go with her. We finally got word, and we were on our way.

Going to Russia was amazing! I could tell stories of the wonderful tour that Julie and I took of Moscow, how I cried when I entered Red Square, of our scary plane ride to the town where we got Fifi, of the orphange, the list goes on an on. But the most amazing thing of all was when Julie and I were waiting in a room and the nurses were asking lots of questions about Julie and me and I showed them pictures of my kids, saying that Fifi would have two new friends waiting at home.

Then in walked a nurse with this little baby girl all bundled up in many layers of clothes and handed her to Julie and I cried. My friend got her baby, her little girl, the one she waited so long for and jumped through so many hoops for. She had her family, there in her arms, and I was there to witness it. It was a truly amazing moment.

Oh, I could go on about our trip and to this day I still do. I think I have a right though, Fifi is my Goddaughter and I love her dearly. Julie and I live about 2 hours away from one another, and we talk, email and visit as much as we can. I am blessed to be a part of Fifi's story and her life. I feel there are reasons they make adoption so hard. It shows how dedicated you are to being a parent. Lots of people can get pregnant and have a baby, but it takes a lot more to be a parent. I feel the adoption process makes you that better parent.

Lots of love to Julie, Fifi and Buddy!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Still More Ideas...


Part of my job in Human Resources was to negotiate the health benefits for my small company. We were self insured for a portion of our claims before the insurance company would take over paying. In my tiny company of only 100 people, that number was $30,000.
What that equates to is my company had a $30,000 deductible when it came to my healthcare. I also know most babies, born with no complications cost the company between $16-20,000. When I adopted, my children cost the company, $0.
At the time, I felt that really wasn’t fair at all, and if you press them, it would be difficult for senior management to deny that’s equitable treatment.
One mom was successful on changing her company’s policy on adoption leave. She suggested the idea via her company’s electronic suggestion box.

Become a one income household

Many two parent families decide it is best for their family if one parent stays home to care for their new child, at least for a while.
The average adoption takes a year or longer. If you start banking the second salary, you’ll have the money you need to adopt in no time and be used to the new budget when your little one arrives.

Turn your hobby into cash

Can you knit? Do you like to scrapbook? Enjoy gardening? Print a few business cards or make signs for community bulletin boards and you’re in business. Get the courage to share why you are soliciting jobs and you might be surprised at the cash flow this can generate.


Babysitting is not only for teens. As a parent of two, I would be delighted to find responsible grown ups to leave my kids for an afternoon or evening. In most areas of the country the pay for sitters is upwards of $10 an hour and in some areas it’s $20.
Consider hosting a parent’s night out one night a week and charge a flat fee per child for an evening of fun.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This weekend I met an amazing lady. She was one of the instructors at my FAKT training. She has 4 children and adopted some of them. I'm not sure exactly how many but one of the kids she adopted has severe CP. He has been with her since he left the Neo-natal ICU and is now about 14 or so.

Unlike having a biological child, every parent that adopts has a huge choice to make. Sometimes that's a blessing and sometimes it's a curse. When I adopted my son there were several children I was presented with I knew I wasn't the best parent for. There was the little boy of the boy/girl twins who appeared to be very disabled...the adorable bright eyed little guy whose bladder was on the outside instead of the inside and the sibbling group of three little boys that would have overwhelmed us and our tiny little house.

Even nearly five years later, I remember their little faces. I never met any of them, so it wasn't like losing Yan durning the journey to Fifi...but it was hard. It made me doubt myself a made me wonder if I was a good enough person to be a mother at all. I would have accepted any of these children had they been born to me biologically. I wouldn't have placed triplets for adoption or made an adoption plan for either of those special needs boys. So why did I decline to adopt them?

Even after all of this time, I still don't know the answers. Part of me thinks it wasn't right to treat these children any differently. That it is just another bias of a system that gives them the short end of the stick. But the other, more pragmatic part of me understands that I wasn't the best parent for any of them. I knew they needed more than I'd be able to give and I knew it would change the life of the child I'd already promised to raise. So they stayed in Russia and I brought Buddy home and while I give thanks everyday I didn't miss out on the oportunity to be his mom, I still wonder about those other boys...the ones I left behind.

I hope they are all in families who are able to give them the love and care they need to grow and flourish. Unfortunatly, I'll never know. But I say a pray for them from time to time and have faith that they, as well as I, am where we need to be.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Ideas...

On-line Sales

This is also something I did a lot of. I sold excess collectibles on eBay and books on Amazon. It adds up very quickly and soon word spread and lots of people were giving me their old books to sell as well.

Get a Second Job or Work Overtime

This would be difficult to do with other children in the home, but doable for some with extra time on their hands. I have also heard of parents who have done customer service from home as well as mystery shopping on the weekends.


There are several websites available to find freelance work., bills themselves as the world’s largest service marketplace. There are others including and
I earned several hundred dollars by writing catalog copy for ecommerce sites. I described lamps, wallpaper, mirrors, pictures, wedding favors and picnic baskets.If writing hundreds of product descriptions doesn’t seem up your alley, there are many other offerings to choose from including website design, finance and accounting, administrative projects and telemarketing, just to name a few.

Churches and Organizations

Churches and other service organizations are often more than happy to help with fundraising for your adoption. Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking for donations of cash, there are plenty of ways people can get involved.
If you are adopting internationally, many programs ask you to bring orphanage donations. If you’re fully decked out in baby gear, have a donations shower instead.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Control Freaks and Adoption

There is no greater proof that God has a sense of humor than the fact he puts adoption in the heart of control freaks like me. There is SO nothing worse. No only are you not able to control the process, but the people that do are usually control freaks too.

But I digress from the point of this post. When I was going back to Russia for court to pick up Buddy every single flight I was on was delayed...and there were a lot.

My town to Chicago
Chicago to Frankfort (where my bags were lost)
Franfort to Moscow (changed airports)
Moscow to Vladivostok

That was how it was supposed to go. I left my town on Monday morning and I didn't arrive in Vladivostok until Wednesday after 8 pm. And I didn't stay the night anywhere.

On Tuesday night I finally boarded the plane to Vlad from Moscow. I thought I was finally going to get there. We flew for 9 or 10 hours and I was the only English speaking person on board. All of the announcements at the airport and on the plane were in Russian.

I'd been to Vlad before and when the plane touched down I didn't know where I was, but I knew I wasn't in Vladivostok. It was a holiday and everyone on the plane had been drinking red wine and eating Pringles. Needless to say, they were very tipsy and many were making use of the airsick bags. Several fell down the stairs from the plane. Cheers broke out when they righted themselves at the bottom.

I followed everyone into the terminal which was really just an unheated room. The temperature in Siberia in January was well below zero. Out the door I could see a dog eating a frozen bird on the runway. I still had no idea where I was. I couldn't even read the signs. The Russian alphabet is NOT like ours.

Some of the people left the building and others stood around to wait. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I figured it was my best bet to wait with them. When I didn't show up, surely someone would try to find me.

I waited for an hour or so, then I went to the kiosk in the corner and bought something to drink, which in hindsight was a mistake because I then had to use a fairly frightening bathroom. I walked around and pointed at my watch, then flapped my arms like a bird and said Vladivostok but mostly I just got shrugs and blank stares.

At the point when all of your understanding and ability to communicate is stripped from you, there's nothing left to go on except faith. I was scared, didn't know who these people were, snatched from everything that was familiar to me surrounded by a language I didn't understand and had no away to communicate. Kind of like the baby I was picking up.

I had to have faith that God was going to take care of me like I was going to take care of Buddy. I was scared but I had to trust. There was nothing else to do.

I evenually followed the crowd and got to Vladivostok. I was greated by my translator, driver and one of my bags. I went to court. I picked up Buddy.

A lot has happened since that day, but I hope I never forget what it felt like to rely on faith alone. I hope God doesn't have to go to such an extreme again to get my attention.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fund Raisers

I have known parents who did everything from hosting events to running marathons. I had a Tupperware party and the sales person who was a good friend, allowed me to keep all of the profits. and

are good resources.

I've known people who sent out newsletters to friends and community members, telling their story and asking for financial support. Some have organized a community benefit concerts and an auctions of donated arts and crafts. One couple I met hosted a community spaghetti dinner with bingo and a raffle. Through such creative fundraising events and a great deal of dedication and hard work, they were all able to make their dreams come true.

I think you can too.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A penny saved and a penny borrowed???

There are as many ways to finance adoption as there are ways to adopt. But in today's world of the credit crunch, parents may have to be more creative. It's not so easy to get a signature loan or quick home equity line of credit. Credit card limits are shrinking and while expenses are increasing faster than our paychecks, in many cases. Hardly an ideal environment for heavy duty saving.

Parents are having to be more creative than ever before. The rest of the week I'm going to post ideas I've garnered from parents over the years. Some of them are really quite creative.

I used a variety of ways to raise the money. First, I saved like crazy. This might sound silly, but a penny here and a penny there add up faster than you think. Most vacations with airfare for two cost $2-3000 dollars. Most Americans spend a thousand dollars a year on clothes. Skip the ten dollar lunch only twice a week and you will save over two thousand dollars in a year. Doing just these three things will save a couple $9,000 in the course of one short year.

There are great internet resources for saving money such as and

I took out a home equity loan, used credit cards and borrowed from my 401K. I put the word out I was having a garage sale when I found out my 2nd was a boy and sold all of my "girly" baby gear. I was amazed, but it paid for my airline tickets. I sold collectibles on ebay and used books on Amazon.

Anyone else? How did you fund your adoptions?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $!!

On Friday, I received an email about how wonderful it was to adopt from Kazakhstan. The kids were young and healthy and they still allowed singles to adopt without too much trouble. I’ve been thinking of another child on and off for a couple of years but I’ve not really done anything about it. That in and of itself, I guess, is proof of how content I am. With Fifi and Buddy, I would not be deterred.

My lethargy has been a sign I just wasn’t ready, but lately, I’ve really been feeling the itch to start scheduling homestudy appointments and appostiling documents.The climate for adoptions is pretty poor in Russia right now and waits are long. When I read this email I thought it was a sign. Maybe Kazakhstan was the way to go.

I’d already decided on an agency should I ever adopt again. The agency I used for Fifi is out of business and the agency I used for Buddy is not accredited. I went to their website to check out the prices for Kazakhstan. Lo and behold, the price was $50-57,000! This price included travel, which is expensive due to the long time required in country. But holy-moly!

When I adopted Fifi, my father had just passed away and I had a life insurance policy I used to pay the bulk of the adoption fees and I put the travel expenses on my Visa. To put it in perspective, her adoption was expensive, but I’d equate it to purchasing a used Ford Focus. Most of us can afford it, but you generally still need some financing.

When I adopted Buddy three years later it was about 50% more. That was some kind of inflation! No measly 3-4% for the land of desperate parents. They know we’ll pay. Buddy’s adoption cost me somewhere in the range of a nice Toyota Camry. Still affordable, but the payment takes a bite out of the budget.

But $57,000! Now were in the land of the Mercedes. Those are only for "rich" people.

My kids were some of the lucky ones. When I used up my savings, I was able to beg and borrow them home. They don’t have college funds and we just last year managed to replace our 1995 truck. But others aren’t that lucky.The point of this post is not to begrudge any of the money I spent to find my kids. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

But the costs spiral out of control and hundreds of thousands…millions of kids probably, sit in orphanages because of these costs.This week, lets discuss creative ways to finance adoption.

Any favorites out there? Post them in the comment section or send an email to:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stories Needed!!

Don't be shy! Step right up and share!

I don't want to pressure anyone who isn't ready, but we'd love to hear your adoption story. I know you're out there...

I began tracking blog traffic on Sunday, and since that time I've had nearly 200 page views. I know you're out there. :-)

I'll keep boring you all with my own stories each morning at 6 am...but I you find it in your heart, feel welcome to share.


Send your story to:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Decision to Adopt Child #2

When Fifi was two and half, I started the process to adopt a second child. It really wasn't a difficult decision for me once again. But one thing to keep in mind is there's just not one decision point in adoption. I'd love to hear from parents about how they decided method or program was right for them etc. Since I was single, there weren't as many options available for me. I briefly considered other countries, but I decided without too much fuss, to return to Russia.

I can't rembmer, "deciding" to adopt again. I just always knew I would. The mintue I carried her out that building full of children without families, I knew I'd be back. Maybe not to that particular orphanage, but somewhere.

My friends went on and on about how hard it was to be a mother and how exhausted they were. Outwardly, I commiserated with them, but in secret, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Fifi was an exceptionally easy child. She was calm, well behaved wherever we went and adoreable. I figured my perfect child and easy life must have been due to the fact I was an exceptional mother. :-)

Then God laughed.

It wasn’t until my first trip to meet my son that I realized this wasn’t going to be the cake walk I’d expected it to be. I mean, I was a seasoned professional adopter and mommy. I assumed I had it all figured out.

First of all, the trip to the edge of the world where he lived was brutal and took three days before I finally got to see him. I was exhausted. The nurse appeared alone with the same chubby cherub from the photos I’d received initially, which from my previous experience with my daughter, we were already ahead of the game. She handed him to me, then left us in a room alone. There were no doctors, nurses or social workers to explain medical reports or his social history as there'd been when I met my daughter.

There was only this little solemn baby boy who could barely hold his head up at nearly six months old. I tried to engage him with toys but they just fell from his hands and were of no interest. He didn’t make eye contact and had no spark whatsoever. He was a gorgeous, healthy looking chubby baby but he was entirely without spirit.

The visit was short and eventually he fell asleep near the end. I held him as he slept and felt nothing but an ache in my arms from the weight of him, as I counted the minutes until a nurse would come and take him back to his bed.

On the way back to the hotel the world felt surreal, like were driving though deep water, or Jell-o or something. As we drove along the road skirting the harbor, a warm breeze came though my window and the sun warmed the tears on my cheeks. I didn’t think there was any way he’d ever be okay. But that wasn’t what really worried me. I wasn’t as scared of his potential special needs as I was my shortcomings as a person--as a mother. Being a mom was who I was and how I defined myself as a person. Yet I felt nothing for this child who was supposed to be my son. My heart was as vacant as his eyes.

I called home and with the help of my family, I decided to visit him again the next day. I knew if it still didn’t feel right I could decline his referral and return to Vladivostok and ask to be referred to another child. I was relieved and finally slept.

The next day I visited him again, still feeling numb as I wrapped his little hands around the toys I’d brought and showed him how to shake them. I played with him for over an hour, hoping he’d respond, or at least I would, but there was nothing. I’d decided to decline to adopt him. I would tell my driver when he arrived so he could call the facilitator for me.

There was about five minutes left to go in the visit and I was holding him close to me, nestled against my chest, his forehead slumping against my cheek. My heart was breaking for this child. Earlier that morning, I learned he’d been declined twice before and I knew that Russian Orphans are kind of like baseball players. You only get three strikes. I was his last chance at a family and that weighed heavily on my heart as I rocked him back and forth.

Then, the strangest thing happened. He tilted his head back and looked at me in the eye with his one good one (he had a lazy eye that turned out) and reached for my face with his little chubby hand. For a moment, I felt his sorrow, his pain and his loneliness. But I also felt his hope. He was assessing me, as my boy still does when he comes across something or someone new. In that moment I wanted to be the person who he hoped I was. If nothing else, I didn't want to be yet another person who let him down.

Even though I had planned to tell him good-bye, when the nurse came to take him back to his room I said I’d be back that afternoon.

Back at the hotel after lunch I called home and woke up my Aunt. There was a seventeen hour time difference so communication was difficult. One of the other of us was usually half asleep. Even all these years later I can hear her words still, telling me I couldn’t just leave him there. Telling me to have faith and bring my son home.

I visited him that afternoon and again the next morning. Little by little he began to come out of his shell. Physically he was still as delayed, but he became more curious and played with the toys I’d brought. I was feeling better about his abilities, but worse about my own. I was relieved when they finally came and took him from me and I could start the long journey back home to wait for a court date.

For the first time in my life, I was besieged with doubt. When we potential parents start down this path we have only hope to guide us and faith to sustain us, but I was running low on both. I hoped I was doing the right thing, not so much for me, but for my daughter and ultimately, my son. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to reach him. I was afraid I only thought I could handle two kids, I didn’t know if I could give them both everything they needed and still end up with anything left at the end of the day.

I have always believed that God proved his faith in me by giving me Fifi and I showed my faith in God, by adopting Buddy. Because in the end, the decision came down to faith alone. Faith not only in God, but faith in myself as a mother and as a person who could help this child. I believed God had brought me where he wanted me to be and gave me this child to love as my son. I didn't have same feeling of being sure he was "the one," but I believed God thought he was.

In the end, because of Buddy, I would see the hand of God and witness a new miracle every day. It turns out the love of my life is three feet tall with big brown eyes and lashes I would kill for. I didn't know any of that when I decided to adopt Buddy.

I thank the heavens every day, I do now.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adopting Princess Margaret

Today when I was sitting down to write about my decision to adopt Buddy, I got sidetracked. By our new(ish) puppy, Maggie. She was scratching at my leg, whining to be picked up and was making a general nuisance of herself. I picked her up for a cuddle. She snuggled in under my chin, her long, coltish legs folded underneath her and gave a contented sigh. I rubbed her favorite spot behind her ear and made room for her in my lap.

It occurred to me as I cuddled Princess Margaret that what we what we wish for and what we get are often two different things. I thank God every day for my two little unanswered prayers sleeping soundly upstairs...

But back to Princess Margaret.

I love dachshunds. You know, the little wiener dogs? I had one growing up named Pluto and in my early 20’s, a friend bought me one to cheer me up when I got divorced. Her name was Lady Cecelia Catherine, CeeCee and she was a long haired blank and tan. My friend Betty had a dachshund named Oliver and together they made PJ, Lillian and Zebediah. I gave PJ to my niece but the rest we kept. So I’ve spend the bulk of my adult life with a pack of dachshunds.

Now, dachshunds are super intelligent, opinionated and a lot like cats, only in ornery doggie bodies. They care little about pleasing their owners, get into trouble on a regular basis, are difficult to housetrain and are NOT good with children. This is in general, of course, there are exceptions. My Cecelia was willful, stubborn, sassy and absolutely beautiful. At the beginning of 2008 our little pack of geriatric dachshunds were all having some health issues. One by one they passed away this year. CeeCee, the last one and the oldest one died in her sleep in the fall at the age of 16. I was heartbroken.

We have a wonderful half black lab, half golden retriever named Chloe but I really missed having a lap dog. I thought about it for awhile and decided I’d look for one in the spring. Prime potty training weather for a dachshund. They don’t like to drag their belly’s in the snow and they don’t like to be out weather that’s too hot.

But then Christmas came along and my aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I thought about it...and thought about it. Besides a call from my agent telling me my book has sold or finding a million dollars in my sock drawer, I couldn't think of anything to put on my list. I'm a pretty blessed woman.

I thought and I thought and I couldn't think of a thing. Except one.

I decided to find a rescued dachshund. A friend who lives in Ohio saw a picture in the newspaper of a pair of dachshunds, Holly and Molly. They were in Paulding Ohio at the dog pound. I also found them on the Internet and saw their picture, just a head shot. They were adorable.

The only time the Paulding Co. dog pound is open in on Fridays from 2-5pm and they don't have anyone that answers the phone. So my friend Betty and Buddy made the hour trip Friday afternoon. They were the first ones there and had to wait. Several others arrived after them, all there for these two dachshunds. One man came from Cleveland! Anyway, Molly had found a home the day before and only Holly was left. Buddy was beside himself with excitement so it was a good thing they were first!

They signed one paper and gave them $50. No references, no home visit, no letter from our vet (all required from our local Animal Control and the Dachshund Rescue Organization) Holly was ours!

Now, Holly is not Holly and also not a dachshund! If I couldn't tell by her longer legs, I certainly would have known because she came housebroken. Holly is now Princess Margaret Sellers, Maggie for short, and is, we think, a Miniature Pincher. She’s great with the kids, great with our Chloe and I know I already mentioned it, but housebroken.

She is a cuddler and loves nothing more than to curl up in my lap on a cold winter’s night. She is the perfect dog for us, long legs and all, and proof to me once again our lives seldom go the way we've planned, but that's okay. The fortunate thing is, while we might not always get exactly what we wish for, we generally get exactly what we need.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Decision to Adopt -- Child #1

There is A LOT that goes into the decision to adopt a child. In the next weeks, since the blog is brand new and I'm not sure there will be many stories to share, I'm going to post about the things I think are important to think about when you are considereing adoption.

I'm wanted to share what I was feeling and thinking about when I decided to adopt my children. Because believe it or not, it the decision doesn't get easier with subsequent children.

I guess it all started because my biological clock started ticking earlier than most single women I know. By the time I was thirty, it was so loud it was keeping me up nights! I’d felt for years, that if I’d not met the man of my dreams and was on the road to making a baby by the age of thirty-five, I’d adopt. I didn’t know the where’s or how’s, but I was sure of the day.

Much to my surprise, the timetable sped up a bit. I turned thirty in October of 2000, and my father, my last living immediate family member, died the following May. The prince I’d had turned out to be less than charming and a new one had yet to show his worthy head. I was, for all intents and purposes, on my own.

In July of 2001, two things happened. First, I received an unexpected check from the Veterans Administration for a life insurance policy I hadn’t known about. Secondly, my employer gave me a form to update some insurance information. It asked me to provide the names of four immediate relatives. The form defined “Immediate Family” as Parents, Spouse, Children or Siblings. I marked “N/A” on the form and used a minor head cold as an excuse to go home for the day.

I think of that day often. It was the absolute low point of my life. I was thirty years old and felt like I had no one. I felt sorry for myself, yes. But mostly I was angry. Angry at the fates and if I'm going to be brutally honest here, at God and everybody, anywhere who had what I so despriately wanted.

I guess that comes from being the well-loved, only child of a single father. I wasn't raised to hide in a corner and rail at the fates. I grew up believing we all have the power to change our own lives and shape our futures the way we see fit. From my vantage point on that day, there was little in my life to salvage. I did have some things going for me. I was healthy, I had a job that paid me a living wage and I owned my own home. I had this new found tiny nest egg, but no husband, partner or significant other on the horizon. Frankly, I was still stinging from an old relationship and I wasn't really interested in beginning another at that point. Try as I might, I couldn't pull my prince out of any old hat.

I was determined to change my life and find my own happiness. When I arrived home, I went directly to my computer and typed, “Single Parent Adoption.” Over the next months the where's, how's and when's of my adoption journey would change. But I never lost focus, never faultered and never had a second thought. Only with hindsight do I understand how unusual that is and what I gift I was given.

Rarely in my life as I know it, can I ever be sure I am doing the right thing when I am doing it and rarely are there absolutes. But I knew to my soul I was doing what I was meant to do and I never stopped working my way towards my child.

In seven short months from that monumental day, I was a mother.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I let the children take the reigns on our celebration this year. I have always particularly disliked Valentine's Day. Pretty much forever.

The worst one of my life was when I was waiting for a court date for Fifi.  It had been months and I was at my wits end. I can't remember ever being so miserable. I thought I'd never be happy again. 

Then the next day the phone rang and it was my agency, telling me to be in Russia in five days.  It's been a whirlwind ever since. 

So today I remember the worst day of my life and give a special thanks it's in the rearview mirror.

The kids have decided we should stay home and make heart shaped pizza. I'm thinking that sounds good, too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stacey's Story

I'm so excited to be posting our first adoption story (other than my own, of course). It goes along perfectly with yesterday's post about whose world will be saved.

Thank you, Stacey, for sharing with us.

A note from Stacey:

Hi Julie, I read about your blog on one of the yahoo groups and thought I’d stop in with my story. I’m in the same sort of boat as you… mid 30’s, single and more than anything just want to be a mom. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your journey and your family now. I’m still in the early process – waiting for a referral from Perm. Here is my starting point… the “why” behind it all. Thanks for starting this blog – I think it will be a nice way for people to come together for support and to share. All the best in 2009! Stacey

Stacey's Story:
In my blog my first entry captures the how I got here and it is titled, “Two wrongs might just make a right”.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I married the most amazing person I have ever known… I married my best friend. Some might say that "Love at first sight" is for dreamers or fools... well, I guess we were both. Scott was an amazing man full of life, light, passion, and humor - he was everything I ever dreamt of in a husband. We shared so many adventures in our time together but the best part was how he could make me laugh until my stomach hurt or smile by just walking into a room. He made me want to be a better person and together we wanted to raise a family.

We knew we would be good parents and we knew that the adventures we shared as a couple would be made even better by sharing them with children... that was not to be. On April 30th, 1999, Scott died beside me in a roll over car accident. The years following that were the hardest I might ever have to endure. Through the tears, grief, pain, and sorrow I've learned that life and the dream of love and a family does go on... albeit in a different way. So here I am... 9 years later contemplating my family in a way so different than before but in my heart feels so right.

You see, I lost my family, my security, my love, my protection and my future when I lost Scott... and it took a long, long time to be able to picture my days without him... without my dreams. And I'm an adult. Somewhere, in an orphanage far away, there are children who, in ways that likely feel very much the same, lost their family, security, love, protection and future... perhaps this is one of the few exceptions to the rule where "Two wrongs might just make a right".

Just after we were married, Scott and I had a conversation that can only be classified as foreshadowing. He told me that if he were to die, he would want me to go on and be happy. He wanted me to find love again, be a mom and a wife. Now he didn’t say in what order that might happen… so here I am. I am going to be a mom. Adopting won’t erase the hurts and disappointments’ of my or my sons life, but together, there will be more hugs, more laughter, better memories and much, much more love. I have a listing of great quotes on my blog… the one I’ll close with is, “Love is the answer… now what was the question?”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Times, they be a changing...

The last of the paperwork FINALLY went in to our caseworker, Ellen at DCS. Now we wait for a call from the Social Worker to schedule the homestudy. It feels good to be making progress after taking such a long break.

I have to admit I’m nervous about getting to know a new social worker. We have only ever had one social worker, Miss Ruth. She is a wonderful advocate for children and our family. We see eye to eye about what is best for my children and she has always been a valuable sounding board for me. She is one of the great blessings of my adoption experience and I hold her in very high regard.

After ten years together, it feels like I am being disloyal to Ruth, but DCS has their own social workers and you don’t get to choose.

There is also a subtle, but remarkable difference between adopting publically and privately. When I adopted in Russia, I was a paying customer. That might sound cold, but it’s true. I was contracted with various individuals for various services. Once they performed them to my satisfaction, they would be paid. It gave me a tiny feeling of power in this out of control world of adoption. I had, at least what felt like to me, an army of people doing their best to find me a child. Because that was their business. Finding children for parents.

Now the tables have turned. The job of DCS is to find PARENTS for CHILDREN. It might seem like the goal is one in the same, but let me tell you. It’s not! The wheels turn slowly and there’s not a lot you can do to speed them up. But I know child or children meant to be ours will be ready for us when we are ready for them. I often wonder who they are and what they’re doing. I wonder if they’re eyes are light or dark or somewhere in between. I wonder if they’re sad, or sacred or hungry. I wonder if they are loved or merely victims of a society that values the rights of parents who hurt them more that it values their right to be protected.

All I can say is stay tuned for further developments. It might be awhile.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Could YOU change the world?

Have you ever wondered what would be the biggest thing you could do with your life? Could you climb Everest? Swim the English Channel? What remarkable thing could you achieve if you chose to extend your experiences past where you are comfortable…if you pushed yourself to the limit?

In 2002 and 2005, I found out exactly what I could do when I adopted my children. Little did I know, my greatest challenge and the crowning achievement of my life would be a tiny hand in mine and a sweet smelling bundle pressed against my side during a thunderstorm.

My kids and I love to go to the children’s zoo in our town. At the exit of the Rainforest exhibit, there’s a sign with a quote by Edumund Burke and I think it says it all. “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

One of my favorite stories is this one:

The Starfish Story
Author Unknown
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”I made a difference for that one.”

There are as many reasons to adopt as there are children who need families. I never advocate that anyone adopt whose goal is to save a child, serve God or change the world. Those things will surely happen if you find it in your heart to adopt, but in my experience parents should adopt for one reason and one reason only. You can’t help it. You just have to do it.

But know, if you do, it’s not only the child’s world you are changing, but your own.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Just shoot me...

Tonight, my kids school had a dance.  Now, they are 5 and 8 years it wasn't the prom, but it might as well have been.  Fifi's room looks like Filene's Basement exploded.  She wore light pink eye shadow and a touch of lip gloss. After 2 hours of drama, Fifi was ready for the dance.

Buddy, on the other hand, donned his new shirt with a frog on it that said "Prince Charming" with absolutely no drama and was ready to go in about 2 seconds.

The elementary school is only a couple of blocks from our house, ensconced in our safe little subdivison.  The kids streaming in the doors to the school were diverse, but all priveldged to be children whose parent's idea of a Friday night on the town was accompaning their kids to a school function.

It wasn't so long ago I told my friends if I ever moved to the suburbs and bought a mini-van to shoot me.  Put me out of my misery because if that ever happened, I'd be so far gone, I wouldn't notice anyway. 

But then two little completely facinating, completely vulnerable miracles became mine.  In a heartbeat what I thought wanted went by the wayside and I realized I'd do anything to protect them, nurture them and give them every oportunity to thrive and be happy. 

So I took a deep breath, risked death and moved to the 'burbs.  Buddy and Fifi have both played soccer and I am their you know what that makes me.

And tonight when the neighbors and our family smooshed into my Honda I wished it were a Minivan. 


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brick Walls and Other Obstacles

I hate to break it to you if you’ve not figured it out already—but the adoption process is HARD. Really hard. Sometimes I think it’s that way because we have to prove ourselves worthy of the gift we are about to receive. I hope not because that sounds really not fair, but there were days it sure felt like it.

Both of my adoptions were stressful and difficult for different reasons, while remaining the most precious times in my life. They pushed me to my limits emotionally, physically and financially. It was during these times that I began to really understand my life and the world around me.

One thing I learned was that “good” and “easy” aren’t necessarily the same thing. Being a child of the 80’s I grew up thinking that for something to be good, it was supposed to be easy. I was the generation of the microwave, the VCR and the personal computer. Life wasn’t supposed to be hard.

That isn’t to say that because adoption is hard it’s not worth doing, or you shouldn’t do it. Just be prepared. The ups and downs I experienced were extreme and there were days I wanted to quit the whole process. But in the end, I have the extraordinary children meant to be mine, even if I did have to criss-cross the planet to find them and nearly lose my mind in the process.

When I first watched the late Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” on YouTube (It has since become a book, etc.) I couldn’t believe he wasn’t talking about the adoption process. The whole lecture is a wonderful, life altering message, but my favorite passage is this:

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!

In adopting my children I was given a special opportunity most people don’t have. I was given the privilege of proving to my children, but most of all, to myself how very badly I wanted them in my life. Single parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, but middle of the night ear infections, vomit in your hair, never getting more than three hours of uninterrupted sleep and not eating a hot meal in four years have nothing on the waiting and the wondering of the adoption process. Maybe I just needed some toughening up.

I hope, for their sakes, most adoptive parents found it easier than I. I hope their adoption journeys were/are easy and worry free. But I have a feeling, for most, that’s not the case.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fifi and Buddy

I've been thinking about how to ID my kids on this blog. For security purposes, most moms who blog don't use their kids actual names. So I'll be calling me daughter, who was adopted first in 2002, the name she first called herself, Fifi. I'll call me son what we called him when he was a baby and that's Buddy.

Coming Soon:

Things to think about when you adopt.
And our very first adoption story! (besides mine)
The second time around decision.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What we expect...

Before I had kids, I didn't think about all of the ways I would love being a mother.  I pictured myself snuggled up with a baby in a rocking chair, looking at the department store windows along State Street in Chicago, watching the fireworks at Disney World with a little someone on my shoulders.  I just pictured them and me. 

I didn't think about all of the other people who would come into my life along with my kids.  I've met a lot of wonderful parents and kids, their teachers, neighbors I would have never met.  I never imagined I'd be the "fun" mom.  And I didn't know how much I'd love having a bunch of kids around all of the time.   

Tonight, Fifi is having a sleep over and there are 4 giggly 8 year old girls making crafts at the kitchen table and lip sincing to Taylor Swift videos. 

I certainly didn't think, twenty years ago, or even ten, that I'd be spending my Friday night painting toenails and braiding hair.  You just never know...

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Adoption Option

Welcome to my blog! I’m so excided to have finally gotten this process off the ground. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

I've created this blog as an attempt to give back to the community that supported me though my two adoptions. I am thankful to God, my family and most of all my children who have brought me to a place where it is indeed my turn to pay it forward.

When I was in the process of adopting my two miracles, I scoured the Internet for stories of families who'd come before me. I found plenty of information about the why's and how's of the adoption process...but what I wanted to know wasn't found in any book from the library or website I could find.

I wanted to know if I could love this child who wasn’t biologically related to me? How would I answer questions about her birthparents? I wanted confirmation this crazy merry-go-round I was on would all be worth it in the end. Would I ever really be a mother?

The only solace I found during either adoption was to read the stories of other parents who been there. So I’ve created this space for us to share our stories. My children have taught me, the one who gives is as blessed or more so than the one who receives. I am ecstatic to be in a position where, with the help of any and all adoptive parents, I can give to those who seek wisdom and guidance in this, one of the most precious and stressful times in their lives.

My plan for this space is to have a “Topic of the Month” if you will, but feel free to share what is in your heart at any time via the comments section. I will do my best to answer any and all questions posed there. Please remember that I am not a social worker, doctor or adoption professional. Any opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone from the prospective of an adoptive mother only.

This first month, I’d like to focus on the ADOPTION DECISION. Even though National Adoption Month is in November, I think this is a time of year many parents’ minds and hearts are turned toward adoption. Maybe the end of the year was a goal? If we’re not pregnant by “X” date, we will start to look into adoption. If I haven’t met my life partner by the end of the year I will begin to research adoption on my own.

I have created a special email account for parents at any stage in the journey--from initial questions and decision making to post placement—to share their stories. I will post them publically on the blog, anonymously is fine. The address is

There will be a blog entries, either authored by me or another parent who has submitted a story to share. I’m excited to meet and share experiences with each and every one of you.

So today, the first day of the New Year, I dedicate this blog to the children who wait and the parents who search for them. May this year find you united with one another and may my little blog and the parents who gather here support you along the way.

Good Luck and Godspeed.