Who Adopts a “Kid Like That”?

Just ask me “Who Adopts a Kid Like That?”  A seemingly innocent question.  A question inferring all children who have some type of difference or need is the same.  A question implying you have to have some sort of superpowers to parent a child…a child “LIKE THAT”.  Let me tell you just one of the many stories I have the privilege of watching unfold.

In November 2011 I received a child to advocate for.  His medical and social report was grim.  His photos were so very sad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALittle “Z” was blind.  He was born prematurely due to a tragic accident his mother suffered.  Z weighed just over two pounds.  He did not receive adequate medical care and retinopathy of prematurity led to loss of his vision.   Z’s grandmother tried to care for him for about a year.  She was unable to continue to care for him and he was placed in a very large orphanage.  When I received his report, Z was 5 1/2 years old.  He weighed just over 15 pounds.  He did not speak.  He did not walk.  He could not feed himself and he was afraid of his caregivers and the other, much larger, children in his ward.

The assumptions the worker, the doctors, the experts, and the caregivers made were that little Z was both blind and deaf.  That he suffered from “retardation” and “mental illness”.

Who Adopts A Child Like That?

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Happily, I can tell you exactly who!  Little Z’s family began the journey to adopt him in January of 2013.  They are a normal family.   A Dad and Mom who work hard to support their children.  They do not possess any super powers.  They could be you.  They could be me.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart.  Adoption is not for people who are not prepared for the very worst.  Z’s family was prepared for him to be the boy described in the report. They were prepared to parent a boy who could not learn, who rejected their presence, who could not see and could not hear.  Their goal was to give Z a chance.  A chance to live a life free from abuse, starvation and seclusion.

When Z’s family met him the following summer he was a tiny seven year old weighing under 20 pounds.  His orphanage insisted “he ate everything, like a horse”.  During this visit they were happy to find that Little Z craved love and attention. They also had a very strong suspicion that this tiny boy could hear and learn.

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The boy on the left is Z on his pick up trip.  The boy on the right is Z six weeks after joining his family.

 

So when you wonder who adopts a “kid like that?” Please remember the words of Z’s mom:

I was not prepared for the amazing, endless joy that this boy would bring to me every single day. Adoption is so awesome isn’t it??”

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Posted in blind adoption, bulgarian adoption, special needs adoption | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Broken, Damaged, Unlovable, Unsalvageable

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We tell you it won’t be easy at first.  We tell you to read the books.  You know, the one’s about attachment, parenting, grief and loss.  We tell you it will get better with hard work.  We tell you the medicals we receive about the child you are adopting is likely not worth the paper it is written on.

We tell you that children don’t generally become adoptable if they have been raised by loving, well educated an emotionally healthy parents.  We tell you infants that are stressed in utero can show signs of attachment issues, so there is no “safe age” that is young enough to make your adoption bonding experience routinely easy.  We tell you that it is NORMAL for your adopted child to resist bonding with you, to struggle, to fear, to act out.  

No amount of “telling” can prepare an adoptive family for the reality of the transition of the adopted child into their home.  When you give birth you have biology in your corner on the bonding process.  When you adopt a younger child you also have a biological response to the child that encourages you to feel maternal or paternal.  

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What do you face when adopting an older child?  You face a child with a history.  A child who may have feelings of anxiety or guilt when they start to become part of a family.  You have a child who can physically and emotionally act out to the point that you have no “feelings” of love for them.  Being a mom or a dad often is more responsibility than bliss.  Commitment and perseverance may be all that gets you through sometimes.  Attachment and bonding can bring to the surface feelings that you have suppressed or didn’t even know you have about being close to another human being.  Loving a sometimes unlovable child touches the very core of how we as an individual may be unlovable.  

When I see families struggling with their adopted children I don’t blame the family and I certainly don’t blame the child.  It is easy to label a child as broken, damaged, unlovable, unsalvageable.  It is much harder to look inside ourselves to see where WE are failing. 

Adoption can be tough.  Parenting can be far tougher.  This holds true whether your child comes to you through adoption or  birth.  I see many, many happy stories of families growing through adoption.  I see also many, many families who are surprised by the first year and how tough it is.  Please check out the wonderful blog post written by a family weathering this tough time right now.  

 

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Oh Baby Girls

One of the countries that I work in is not in Eastern Europe.

It is the most joyful and maddening country to work in.  The orphanages genuinely love the children but they are often very poor.  They do their best for the children which is so heartening but the process, bureaucracy and overwhelming lack of a single type “A” person in the entire country is hard for me to deal with.

In this country I can only “match” our waiting children for a two month time frame and then the children are no longer available to our agency for a period of time and other agencies are given the chance to place them.

I am on my second attempt now to match identical twin girls with a family.  These girls are now two years old.  They have been raised with love and compassion.  They are developmentally normal.

They are both blind.

They are beautiful.  They have such a bright future.  They should have the benefit of a family and yet I simply can’t find them one.

uploadable2 uploadableTheir country has many rules and regulations on the family who can be approved to adopt them.  The mother and father’s ages must add up to less than 90, they would like a family with no other young children and maybe only 2 other kids in the home.

I also really need a family who either has a home study or can complete one within the next month.  Please share the word about these beautiful girls.  Please email me at ninat@chiadopt.org if you would like more information.

Posted in asian adoption, blind adoption, special needs adoption | Tagged | 4 Comments

Devastation

gavin3Yesterday started off like most other days, rush to get the kids ready for school, out the door and off to work, interspersed with checking work emails on my phone before our international partners shut down for the day.  When I arrived at work I was sitting answering emails and questions when I received a call.

It was totally unexpected.  

The transplant coordinator in San Diego started the conversation off in a chatty way.  But there was a tone in her voice.  I know that tone.  I have used that tone.  It is the tone that says “I don’t want to make this call and I have some really bad news”.

She finally got to the point of the call.  Gavin’s surgical team and my surgical team had a meeting.  They had decided that my kidney was too “high risk” to transplant into Gavin.

Since before the pre-op trip we have know there were two factors that were concerning about my donation screening.  One resulted in the tests I have been having since the beginning of the year and there is still no resolution or indication of any reason for the problem.  The biopsy that was scheduled for tomorrow was supposed to give the definitive answer on the quality of my left kidney.  You know, the one I have been thinking of as “Gavin’s Kidney”.

The other factor was that I had two small angiomylipomas on “Gavin’s Kidney”.  The team had originally felt they were “no big deal” and “not a problem”.   They were basically small, fatty tumors that are generally benign.  As a result of a bad injury in 2008 we had verification via old CT scans that the aniomylipomas had been present for a long time and had not changed in size.

Yesterday’s call was to tell me that now the team felt the angiomylipomas actually made my kidney too risky to transplant.

So after 6 months of testing, weeks before the donation was to happen Gavin is left with no donor.  I understand and believe the decision the team made was in Gavin’s best interest.

So now Gavin needs a new Hero.  To be considered for donation you would need:

  • are age 65 or younger with healthy kidneys
  • are in good general health
  • have normal blood pressure
  • have two normal-sized kidneys
  • have normal urine and blood tests
  • are willing to donate a kidney
  • are able to understand the risks and benefits of donation
  • are able to sign an informed consent form stating you knowingly agree to surgery.

You may not qualify if you have:

  • kidney (renal) disease
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • diabetes
  • major health problems (such as emphysema, cancer, heart disease)
  • a drug or alcohol problem
  • feelings of being forced to donate.

Additionally Gavin needs a type “B” or “O” donor.  If you would like to be considered as a match you can contact his family at lindsayandandy@hotmail.com.  The testing process is long but oh so rewarding.

Posted in bulgarian adoption, kidney donation | Tagged | 6 Comments

Biopsy Scheduled

diegoI am incredibly grateful that my kidney biopsy was quickly scheduled for this Thursday!  I will be heading back down to Seattle for the procedure and will likely be kept most of the day.  The biggest risk is internal  bleeding, so they like to keep you laying on your back for up to 12 hours after the procedure to monitor you for this!

While I am NOT looking forward to the procedure, which sounds kind of scary and gross, I am trying to remind myself that I have been through injections into my SI joint, spine and tailbone that were all done without sedation and I did just fine.

My good friend who will be travelling with me for the donation procedure will be accompanying me and I know she will remember to ask any questions I might forget.

The biggest bummer about the biopsy is that I need to refrain from any “bouncing” for up to two weeks.  While I like to think that I do NOT bounce when I ride my horse I am realistic enough to know that I might be bouncing {ahem} just a tiny bit and will need to have a trainer ride him.

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Kidney Donation Update

Yesterday was the day that was supposed to be the final hurdle for the kidney donation clearance.  Unfortunately the test, a cytoscopy, failed to give the doctors the assurance they need for the final ok.  I am not in the process of being scheduled for an urgent kidney biopsy.

I am a big fan of being fully informed about the procedures I undergo and tend to hit YOUTUBE as soon as something is mentioned to watch a procedure.  Unfortunately the first YouTube video I opened was this one.

Yeah, not the one I should have watched!

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Worries and Last Steps

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When I get quiet I am worried.  I have one last doctors appointment this week on Thursday.  This will HOPEFULLY result in the final approval for the donation.  Gavin has already been scheduled for his first surgery to remove his remaining kidney on January 30.  Then he will begin dialysis. You would think I was worried about this all becoming real.  You would think I would be worried about the pain, the time off work, the possibility of complications…but all I can do is worry that somehow this Thursday I will find out that I am NOT approved.

Which makes me feel like this:

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