Thursday, August 23, 2012


We are almost at the end of August.  This month always flies by for me.  Between school preparations, the start of volleyball season, and numerous medical appointments for the twins, I have been beyond busy.  Plus we still go to the cottage on the weekends, which gives me less time to accomplish everything that needs to be done.  I feel horribly guilty leaving on Fridays for the cottage when I have barely done any cleaning and still have numerous other things to do.  But the kids love the cottage and summer is so short, I don't want to miss out on family fun - even if it means having a not so clean house for the entire month of August!  We only go to the cottage in the summer and 2 times during the winter.  So missing a weekend just doesn't make sense.

On top of the normal stuff, Emery has been being a real stinker.  It is taking forever to potty train her, which is exhausting.  Some days she does great and other days she refuses to use the potty.  She had a difficult time after returning from Cincinnati.  Definite regression.  We were a bit worried, but after about a week at home, she was back to normal.  Normal for Emery is waking up is a goofy giggly mood and getting into EVERYTHING she is not supposed to!  Developmentally she is like a toddler. Thus, I am right smack in the middle of the terrible twos!  Ugh!  I am not the best toddler parent, so I am hoping this stage passes soon.

Emery is beginning to talk more at random and is eager to repeat words for us.  She will be starting speech and occupational therapy in the next two weeks.  The other kids start school this Monday.  So things should calm down a bit with just one kid at home!  I hate to see school start.  I love having the kids home.  But it will be less chaotic around here.  Plus it will give me the necessary time to work and play with Emery.  I am also hoping to regroup, reorganize, and get into a new routine.  I feel like I am constantly doing things but not accomplishing much.  So maybe a little less chaos will help me get back into balance!  If that is even possible!!! Hoping to post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

International Adoption Clinic and Orthopedics

We made it home by 5pm today.  It was a long ride, but the kids did extremely well.  Our Day at Cincinnati Children's Hospital yesterday was very long and also very informative.  I  am so glad we made the decision to go.  We had the orthopedic appointment with Blake first thing in the morning.  The surgeon agrees with the ortho surgeon in GR that it would be best for Blake to have his leg amputated either above or below the knee and then have a prosthesis.  He said he could straighten his leg, but it would never be functional due to several medical reasons.  So, if we want Blake to walk normally and basically have a normal functioning leg, we will have to go with the prosthesis.  The surgeon is recommending a few more tests, but definitely feels this is our best, if not only, option.  We plan on meeting again with the ortho surgeon in GR after he has had a chance to review the report from the CCH surgeon.

The International Adoption Clinic was beyond wonderful.  The twins received a thorough examine and evaluation.  We were given a lot of much needed advice and reassurances.  They felt we were making the right decision trying Blake in first grade.  They also insisted that it was too early to pin any labels on Emery until she has been home for a longer period of time and has been in therapy for awhile.  She has global developmental delays, which we already knew.  They feel that starting her in therapy soon is a good decision.  Dr. Staat was kind, understanding, and straight forward.  Which is exactly what we needed.   We will hear the results of all of the lab work by Thursday and copies of all reports will be sent to us soon.

We did not leave CCH until 6pm last night, so it was a long day and stressful on the twins.  They were fine unless it involved a close up examine or needles!  We went and had a nice dinner and then went swimming at our hotel.  We are all glad to be home, especially Emery.  She was getting a bit frustrated toward the last 2 hours of our trip, but made it with no major issues.  When we arrived home she ran to her bedroom to play with some favorite toys and change into the outfit of 'her' choice, which is always interesting!  Both twins are sound asleep now and we plan on having. very low key day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


We arrived at our hotel at about 5:00 tonight.  The ride from Grand Rapids went well.  Blake talked constantly, which drove us all a little crazy.  But, he definitely keeps things interesting.  We were all laughing most of the trip!  Our hotel is awesome.  It is a two room suite with a small kitchenette.  We were surprised to find out that the hotel gave a discount for medical related stays.  Saved us almost $100.  We had a great dinner at PF Changs and came back to the hotel to swim.  All the kids had fun. Need to start getting the twins in bed as we have to leave before 7:30 for the hospital tomorrow morning.  Praying things go well tomorrow.  It will be a long day for all of us at the hospital.  Not expecting to be finished until about 5:00 pm.  Ikea is across the street from our hotel.  I would love to get a chance to do some shopping.  Will probably be too tired tomorrow night!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is the adoption transition harder than expected?

Someone recently asked me this question. It really made me stop and think. I answered "not really".  I keep thinking about the question.  So I decided to consider all of the transition issues, what I expected based on our adoption preparation, and how it actually turned out.

I will start with the issues/concerns that were definitely harder than I expected.  Take note, most of these items seemed harder not because of the twins, but because of me.

Rocking - watching Emery rock against the wall to fall asleep was very difficult.  It broke my heart that I was of no comfort to her.  I knew one or both of the kids could have a rocking issue.  What I didn't realize was how hard it would be to witness.

Tantrums - Blake's tantrums wore me down to the bone and squeezed every ounce of patience I had right out of me.  Again, I knew tantrums could be an issue.  I had a plan to deal with them.  I adjusted the plan as necessary based on advice from my social worker.  I knew dealing with tantrums would be trying and tiring.  They were far harder than I imagined.  They completely exhausted me both physically and emotionally.  Thankfully, Blake and I both made it out of that phase in one piece!

Potty Training - I am not a very good potty trainer and I just do not like it. Enough said.

That's it.   Now for the issues that were easier than I expected

Pets - I was afraid the twins would have a hard time adjusting to our dog and cat and pets of our friends and family. Not a long adjustment period at all. Before I realized it, Blake was kissing the pets and pretending to be a pet himself! Emery just ignores them entirely.

Booster Seats & Seat Belts -  Blake had no problem at all. Emery was agitated her first two times in the car. The third time, she was in a silly mood and we didn't make an issue about it. Hooked her in 
without saying a word.  She was fine.  No problems since. 

Sleeping Issues - No major sleep issues.  Emery still has a hard time falling asleep, but both kids sleep through the night at least 95% of the time.  I can't complain about that!

Language Barrier - Really did not impede communication as much as I anticipated.  Blake is very animated, so he usually could make us understand what he was saying.  I worried about communication being even harder with Emery because she didn't talk.   This was not the case at all.  Emery began understanding English as quickly as Blake began speaking it.  

Plane Ride Home - We were all so nervous that the twins would cry continuously or throw tantrums on the long flight home.  The flight went smoothly!  I think we were really lucky on this one!

Cottage, Boat, Lake -  We spend a lot of time at our cottage in the Summer.  I was very worried another "home" would confuse the twins and upset them.  Emery does have a harder time falling asleep at the cottage, but otherwise they love it.  They love the boat - especially Blake.  They love swimming - especially Emery.  They both enjoy playing in the sand and with the neighbor kids.  Blake begins asking when we are going to the cottage on Monday morning and continues asking numerous times per day until we leave again on Thursday.  We hung a hammock up last weekend and  it was a big hit with both kids!

Behavior - I was so afraid that one of the kids (or both) would have challenging behavior issues and it would completely disrupt our lives. Now I believe our love for the twins will carry us through any issues that arise.  So far, any behavioral issues have been transition related.  It is no longer a concern any more than it is with our biological children.

Blake's Leg Issue and Emery's Delays - If anyone has read my blog from the beginning, you will know that we actually stopped the adoption at one point for a year because we were so afraid we couldn't handle these issues.  We had never considered adopting special needs kids and had zero experience with any special needs.  Could we really handle a physically disabled child?  Could we handle a child with mental delays?  We had very discouraging consultations with two separate international adoption doctors.  After we recommitted, we were still extremely concerned about the twins' special needs, but we knew God was leading us to these kids and we would deal with their issues.  It is funny how your thoughts change after you have your children home.  Blake being on crutches has not affected us at all.  He gets around as well as any of us do.  In fact, I think he could actually out run me!  He has the best personality and his spirit is beautiful.  Now, rather than being concerned with his physical disability, we just want to eliminate his leg pain and see him ride a bike (he really wants to ride a bike someday).  Our concerns for Emery shifted from her delays to
helping her accept comfort and learn how to be loved.  This little girl had no idea how to let someone love and comfort her.  She would fall down and skin her knee and go climb in a chair to rock and cry alone.  Seven years with no love.  It makes me wonder why on earth I was so concerned about her delays.  This little girl needed a family.  Period.  Now, as she is beginning to accept our love, we will spend time helping her with her delays.  We will spend time helping Blake eventually be able to ride that bike!  These kids are now loved and we will do whatever is needed for them.

So, no the adoption transition is not harder than expected.  Just the opposite.  Life is Good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

3 Months Home

The twins have been home now for a little over 3 months. It seems like these 3 months went by so quickly, yet it feels like the twins have been with us forever. I believe are family has now settled into our new normal. Day to day things run smoothly, the twins know our routine, and they fit into our family perfectly. Blake is continuously being goofy and making us all laugh. He has a great sense of humor. Emery is our giggly little monkey. She can (and does) climb anything and everything. Keeping me on my toes for sure. Emery is now saying around 15 or 16 words. She is much more willing to try to say words now. She has the cutest voice. I just love to hear her say words. Her potty training has been difficult, but she is finally making progress. She has not had any pee accidents in over a week. Poop is another story. Part of the issue is that she still has very loose stools and I think she just can't make it to the bathroom in time. Another part is that she will not tell us when she has to go. She usually goes when we ask her to or she just walks in the bathroom and waits for me to come and help her. Also keeps me on my toes. A third part of the issue is that sometimes she is just plain stubborn and poops in her undies. Drives me crazy! But at least we are moving forward. She is such a cuddle bug and cutie pie. She loves going to the cottage and swimming in the lake. She is not afraid to try new things. I love that about her. She has a temper and is not afraid to show it to us! She has spunk. So different from the quiet, shy little girl we picked up in Bulgaria. Blake is doing great. He loves being on the boat and helping us drive! He swims with us without worrying about his leg wound. He hates doing school work. I am concerned and pray he will do better in a classroom setting. If first grade is too much for him, we may have to bump him down to kindergarten. I hope this is not the case because I think 1st grade is a good fit for him socially. Time will tell. His English is coming along fine. We are working with him on using complete sentences and saying "I" in place of "Blake". Since things have started feeling normal, we decided it was time to set up therapy evaluations. We have evaluations scheduled this month.  We are hoping to get language development therapy for Blake and speech/language therapy and occupational therapy for Emery. We will hopefully have a
therapy plan for both kids in a few weeks.  We are getting ready to travel to Cincinnati this Sunday for our orthopedic appointment and International Adoption Clinic appointments on Monday.  Praying for some better news about Blake's leg and a safe trip.