Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our Angel Tree Kids and *GOTCHA DAY*

Meet George,

I was stuck between him and Kolya.
Both are boys in Millie and Eli's country with less than stellar pictures.

Until June 2013,
Millie never had good pictures either.
I think it's why my heart was drawn toward those two boys specifically,
That and they are right around the same age as her.

"George" has $1,222 in his grant right now.
That means $2,222 is the goal for Angel Tree,
What a fun number!

But like I said yesterday,
$7,500 is the magic number,
I need to see him make it to $7,500.
To give him hope,
That maybe, just maybe,
A family already in process will see him,
See his grant,
Know his funds are all covered,
And it be an easier leap of faith to add him to their current adoption!

So that's George....
The second child we are advocating for,
It was not something we had planned to do.
Like I said yesterday I'm on my way to pick up my own kids this week,
But surely we have time to help these two as well.
If kids on the Angel Tree didn't have warriors by the end of the day yesterday,
They were being left off and left out of the fundraiser,
$1,000 they would miss out on in their accounts.

I saw her over a year ago and she's had a special place in my heart ever since.
Again, a child with a not so great picture,
A child that is big and looks a little rough around the edges even.
But I love her, and I see sooo much in her,
And I know we don't qualify to adopt her,
So I must find her a family,
And funds help!

I texted my husband in a panic yesterday saying that of the 5 kids left to be chosen,
That she was one of them :(
That I needed to sign him up to help rally,
Because she just could not be left behind,
She reminds me too much of our Millie.

Do you know how many kids are on Reece's Rainbow?
I have no clue, 
But it's a lot.
And no one saw her beauty,
So we had to step up and shout for her too.
Because all life is precious.

Jill's RR profile states
"Jill is a beautiful young lady who needs a loving, experienced family.   She is considered profoundly delayed.  She does attend a school for children with special needs, and she does recv therapy and specialized care in her orphanage.  She is growing well (size-wise), but she needs full care.  She tries to walk but gets tired easily.  She has some autistic/institutional behaviors, and craves sensory input."

And Millie's reads
"Millie has difficulty making eye contact and other signs that she may also have Autism. A formal evaluation is being scheduled to either confirm or rule out Autism. She is significantly delayed in her development and requires adult assistance for most activities. She shows little interest in toys unless an adult is directly interacting with her and assisting her in her interactions. She is not yet talking, though she will vocalize to indicate her pleasure or displeasure with activities."

Millie's Profile Picture at one point.

So you see,
They are a lot alike, only two years apart, and many of the same institutional behaviors.
I can tell you that in Millie's referral videos,
It was a whole lot of stimming.
My time in country with her,
There was still a whole lot of stimming,
But that sweet beautiful child of mine,
She came to life overnight

So for Jill and George,
We will Rally.
While on our gotcha trip to bring our treasures home.

Oh and I mentioned Gotcha Day,
Yeah, sorry, it wasn't today,
But it got you to click on the post.

I mentioned it because I'm not sharing anything, pictures or otherwise, about Millie's Gotcha Day until Jill's Angel Tree account reads $500 or more.

Gotcha Day is November 6th.
Six Days to get her to $500 if you want pictures and updates as soon as we get back to the hotel that afternoon!

And a heads up that the same goes for sweet Eli,
We are not sharing anything about his gotcha day,
or anything else to do with that extraordinary trip!
I arrive in Pleven on November 7th,
Will spend 3 days at the orphanage,
And GOTCHA is the afternoon of the 9th.

Until then,

*Also worth noting, ornaments are fun and all but they take a chunk of your donation from the child and it gets put toward materials. If you want your full donation to reach the kids, please consider opting out of getting an ornament*

Friday, October 31, 2014

Angel Tree starts Tomorrow

The decision to sign up for a child on Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree,
It was quite the thought process.

Until March of this year I was banned from Reece's Rainbow,
Because I have a voice,
Because I won't be silenced.

It is this very reason that despite bad blood,
That I signed up,
And my husband signed up.
We are raising money for two kids.
Because regardless of my feelings toward individual adults,

The kids on the tree,
They matter.
And I will not let myself lose sight of that.

We started our process to adopt in 2012,
Our commitment was voided.
A failed adoption,

New hope.
Ethical programs exist.

I traveled with a friend and it opened my eyes to amazing children, opportunities, countries, and programs.

We started our adoption process shortly after arriving home from that trip,
But there was something.
Still missing.

In March 2014, coutesy of Hague standards,
Our missing piece,
She was put on hold for us.

Would we have added a second child even if they didn't have a grant available?

Millie was a huge leap of faith and trust in God.
When you see a child listed for several years,
A child who has spoken to your heart for so long,
You start to wonder and paranoia sets in....
There must be a reason no one else wants her,
They must see something that we're missing.
It brings about many insecurities and lots of second guessing.
It makes for a scary leap,
And a lot of questioning ourselves.

And even though it wouldn't have determined our decision to commit,
Her $7,122 grant,
Made the leap of faith a little easier,
Because adding her to our adoption has cost $7,500 total.
It has cost virtually nothing for us to adopt her,

And regardless of bad blood,
I cannot ignore the fact that $7,500 grants for children from Bulgaria makes the leap that much easier.

It is something I want to see for every older child with Down Syndrome listed for adoption.
Adoption is a leap of faith,
The biggest leap you may ever take....
Adding a second is almost as scary.

If each child had $7,500, there would be no fees to raise to add them to an existing adoption,
I think that would be pretty spectacular and open them all up to better chances of finding a family.
So when I commited to fundraise for a little boy with Down Syndrome on Reece's Rainbow,
It's with $7,500 in mind,
Not $1,000.

Because in my mind,
Walking the road I've walked,

$7,500 is a pretty Golden Number.

$7,500 covers:
[As a 2nd child commitment, with our agency]
Agency and Program fees
Extra week in country (Food and Lodging)
USCIS extra $720
TB Test
and Flight home.

When you start an adoption, and have a number like $28,000 to come up with,
The idea of commiting to a 2nd when you are nowhere close to coming up with the first $28,000,
$7,500 removing the added expense of a #2 could be the difference between finding a family and being left to die alone in a mental institution.

Milena Grace
3788 Days as an Orphan
10 years, 4 Months, and 14 Days

Forever LOVED.

And regardless of my "stance" I will not, can not, ignore that her nearly full grant helped bring her home.

She was an Angel Tree Child for 3, maybe 4 years.
It is part of what got her to $7,500.
We will not ignore that.

By the time you read this I will have started the adventure that is

I ask you to come back tomorrow and meet our Angel Tree kids,
Help them the way others helped our Millie.
Be a part of it with us!

We thank you!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I could never... Down Syndrome Adoption

How many people have said that, or even just thought it, when adoption crosses their minds?
What about Down Syndrome Adoption?

The idea of adoption can be intimidating,
There are just so many unknowns,
And no one likes the feeling of failure or rejection.

I have heard on numerous occations,
"There is no way we would qualify"
but you will not know until you at least try.

And then figuring out the right route and where to start,
It can be quite overwhelming!
Narrow your options

Domestic or International?
The first thing you should do if you are considering international adoption,
Is to make sure you meet the income requirements that are required in order to receive immigration approval for your new additions.
You can look those numbers up HERE

If you qualify great, you can look into internation as well as domestic! 
If not, it doesn't necessarily rule out adoption from your future, domestic is still an option
Don't get discouraged!

~Domestic Adoption~
Foster Adopt, Waiting Child Adoption or Private Adoption

Fostering to Adopt, 
Getting licensed with your state to take in foster placements that are likely to end in termination of parental rights. You are able to specify the age range, gender, special needs, etc. There is no cost to you to adopt through foster care.
'But do I quality?'
Every state sets it's own rules, regulations, and guidelines,
So I really cannot answer that for you.
I know that for my state, there is no set income requirement,
That you must be able to show that you have enough money to meet the needs of your family.
I know that in my state you cannot have more than 4 children per bedroom,
And that there needs to be 40sq ft per child in a bedroom,
So if you wanted 4 children in a bedroom, the room must be a minimum of 160sq ft.
Each child must have their own closet or dresser.
You must have one full bathroom for every 8 people in your home.
There is a bunch more little things, like outlets must be covered, chemicals locked up, etc.
But that's the gist of it, for my state,
Yours will likely be different.

You will wait, some for a very brief period of time and others might wait for years.
I know for Down Syndrome specifically,
Our county told us that unless a fluke situation presented itself, 
We shouldn't expect a placement for 2+ years.
If one were to open their "criteria" up a bit to state,
Intellectual Disabilities, including but not limited to Down Syndrome,
You'd have a higher likely hood of sooner placement.

Waiting Child Adoption,
You will need to have a homestudy written,
This can be done privately or through the state.
Our private homestudy cost $2,500.
If it is a waiting child in your home state, the state will help license you to adopt at no charge.
I don't know about other states but the social workers that we have talked to would not do a state funded homestudy for a specific out of state child, unless you had already waited 12 months for a placement within your own state.
So for us personally,
If we were choosing to adopt a waiting child with Down Syndrome from out of state (There are none currently listed in our state, which is why I use this example)
We'd be responsible for our homestudy cost,
Which is often reimbursable upon completion of the adoption, through the state.
We'd be responsible for our travel expenses to go meet and visit with the child, as well as transportation home for the child.
This is often reimbursable too.
Criteria to adopt a waiting child will vary greatly,
But somewhat similar to that of Foster Adopt.
You do not need to meet the same exact criteria though,
Meaning if you want to adopt but don't qualify to foster,
It may not be a closed door.
Homestudies seem so intimidating but they really aren't,
A social worker isn't coming out with the desire to crush dreams and prevent adoptions,
They want to help approve you,
If there is room in your heart and in your home,
If your home is safe and not horribly over crowded,
If you are safety/child proofing concious,
If you can afford to add to your family,
If you aren't a criminal,
You really need to stop worrying,
And trust that everything will work out.
Lists children across the US that are just waiting for families to say yes!

Lists children with Down Syndrome within the US that are currently available for adoption.

Private Adoption
You're likely more aware of this one.
Private adoptions are through agencies vs the state.
Private adoptions will often cost a lot more,
But there is an aspect of adoption that you will not get through Foster Adopt or Waiting Child Adoption.
With a Private Adoption of a child with Down Syndrome,
You are often chosen by a birth family specifically,
And more often than not, you are chosen before the baby is born.
There is no past trauma that caused the child to be seperated from their birth family,
It was a choice the family made in the best interest of their baby/child.
You will pay for all of your adoption expenses yourself,
Agency Fees,
Court Costs,
Travel Expenses,
Sometimes Birth Mothers expenses as well.
Private adoptions can cost anywhere from $7,500-$35,000.

The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network is a great place to start when considering private or waiting child Down Syndrome Adoption.
If you are wanting to adopt a child with Down Syndrome,
Contact a social worker to get your homestudy completed and then get in touch with NDSAN and send them your homestudy,
They will then add you to their database of waiting families and when a birth family chooses adoption, your homestudy will be among those able to be considered.

~International Adoption~

You could probably look into any country that is open to international adoption and find hundreds and hundreds of children with Down Syndrome available for adoption.

There is so much flexibility/variance in International Adoption from country to country.
Some require two parent travel,
Some only one has to travel,
Some allow for an escort to bring the child home to the US for you.
Some are open to single parents.
Some allow you to take custody of the child immediately,
While others have you wait until the adoption is finalized.
Some require one trip,
Some require three.
Some require 6 weeks in country,
Others only 5-7 days.
Some allow multiple unrelated children to be adopted together,
Some do not.
Some allow you to preselect a child,
Others will look over your homestudy and dossier and match you with a specific child.
Some are party of the Hague Convention and some are not.
Some are $15,000 and others are upwards of $50,000.
Some take 6-9 months to complete, others can take 2-3 years.

Like I said, huge variance.

I will use the country our children are from as an example of requirements.

-Allows preselection
-The child is officially on hold for you when you submit your commitment documents
- Allows single women to adopt as well as married couples
-You can adopt multiple unrelated children at the same time
- You will receive pictures and often videos of the child(ren) you are adopting
-You have access to their basic medical records prior to commitment
-Part of the Hague Convention
-Two trips required, first trip is one week and second trip is about 12 days
-Only one parent is required to travel
-An escort can be arranged for trip 2 (At least one parent must travel for trip one)

Many countries allow waivers and will make exceptions to certain rules when adopting a special needs child, so even if you are looking at criteria and something "rules you out" don't be so sure....China for example, is willing to grant waivers on a case by case basis for almost every guideline EXCEPT minimum age requirement that states you must be 30 years old to adopt from China.

You can often adopt older infants and very young toddlers with Down Syndrome through international adoption.
Older children are available as well.
US law allows for the international adoption of children 0-16 into the US,
China's law states that children must be adopted by age 14 before they age out and are then forever unadoptable. But all other countries that I can think of allow adoption through 16+ years of age, it is US Immigration requirements that don't allow a child over 16 to be adopted into the US.

Adoption is expensive!
Why yes, it most definitely can be!
But it doesn't have to be,
There are low cost and no cost ways to adopt,
Namely Foster/Adopt and Waiting Child Adoption.

Beyond that though,
There are grant agencies that no how costly adoption is,
And that many families don't have $35,000 just collecting dust under their mattress,
They want to help!!
There are many many grants available to help cover the cost of international adoption.
There are also ministries and agencies that allow you to set up tax deductible donation accounts so that friends and family can be encouraged to make tax deductable donations!

And guess what,
It is absolutely okay to fundraise,
Not having the ability to write a check for $35,000 does not mean you are not fit to adopt,
I promise.

So I need to ask,
What is it that is holding YOU back?

Have questions? concerns? doubts?
Let's talk!