Sunday, August 7, 2011

Will We Adopt Again?

Six months... doesn't feel much different than 5! A little update though. We saw Dr Baxter and it looks like things are going well with everyone. She sent them all for a bunch of bloodwork and stool samples, but haven't heard anything back which is suppose to mean that everything came back clean. Carter actually started to tone it down with strangers, which I really noticed on our Edmonton trip, and has been that way since - so really good news there. And it turns out that Eli's eyes have improved more since May, so he no longer needs surgery either! We've also celebrated Eli's second birthday. Here are a few pics

Had to definitely include that last one since I think it is one of the few pictures we have of Alexander with a real smile! Usually he makes smiling for a camera look painful :)

So on our way back from our Edmonton trip Aaron and I had some chat time while the kids were sleeping... The topic: Would we adopt again? We feel we have enough kids. Life is busy (always is though), plenty of whining and wiping to last us a decade atleast. I mean, who doesn't want more spare time, money, and less responsibility! I certainly do, and having more kids would be going in the opposite direction. BUT, then I think of the faces I've seen of kids with no mom and dad, growing up in an orphanage and how could I deny giving them a home? My desire to read in peace and scrapbook looks completely selfish when placed beside those children. "Sorry I can't be your mom because I want more time for myself". So, WILL WE ADOPT AGAIN? It is not looking probable. I do not desire to wait 6 years and then start again - I really want to have this season of life and then get on with the next. So that means that we would start the adoption process again NOW expecting for it to take about 2 years. Eli is already 2 years old, and most likely we would bring home two year olds when adopting (by then he'd be 4 years). So why not start again? We simply can NOT afford it. We are still paying off our adoption (cost over $82,000 not including our van and all the medical stuff since) and we are also building an addition to our house right now. We currently have a four bedroom 1100sqft house, so were we to have more children we really would need the addition (another four bedrooms and a rec-room, extending our dining area, and making a larger porch so we can stop tripping over each other). So I do not feel guilty about the addition - it will certainly make life easier around here as the children grow up - and would be a neccessity IF we were to adopt more. To adopt domestically (within Alberta is what I mean) would not cost much at all, but the children waiting for homes here seem to either be 'special needs' or older children - neither of which we feel we could manage. Aaron brought up the thought of having so many kids that we just turn into an orphanage - but that wouldn't be the case. Even if an orphanage has a higher worker to child ratio and has workers that truly love the kids (both not very likely), the kids still get moved around constantly as they age into the next group (so no security in a caregiver because they just continue to change) and then they turn 16 and are sent on their way one day. No family that they BELONG to, no one to help them in hard times, no where to go home for Christmas, no one who really cares about them. Alone in the world at age 16 - no wonder the statistics are so bad. Argh!

And all that leads to another issue - Jesus! Who is teaching them about Jesus loving them? And as a Christian the Bible tells us to care for orphaned children and that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans..." James 1v27a.  I once heard that it would take only 7% of Christians to adopt an orphaned child to give each one a family - so I looked it up on the internet tonight. What I found is that there is 1.5 - 3 billion Christians, and that there is 18.5 million children without any parental care. So even if you take the 1.5 billion number of Christians, and then divide by two in order to provide a two parent family, you still get a ratio of 40 Christian couples to every 1 orphaned child. Unbelievable! Makes me feel the same way I feel when I read how daft the Israelites in the Old Testament were - I just want to scream 'wake-up already'! Yes, looking after orphans does not neccessarily mean adoption and there are certainly other things people can do to help - so, what ARE you doing? You don't actually have to tell me, but if you are a Christian you may be asked by Him one day how you obeyed in helping the least of these.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Five Months

Five months ago today I got custody of the boys. Seems kind of strange now - it really feels like they have always been here - so now five months feels like a small number considering I can't remember what it was like before that. I bet it was quieter though :)

I'm happy to report that Alexander had his dental surgery June more brown decayed teeth! He had three extractions, eight capped, and one regular filling. Overall it went very well and he hasn't complained about tooth pain since. Alexander also has slowly been gaining....?attention?... its not that he couldn't concentrate on something, but that he didn't want to - that he was quickly bored with whatever he was doing and always wanted to be moving on the the next thing. My one friend described him as 'busy'. I called it 'annoying' :) . But I have definitely seen an improvement. Yesterday I let him pull out a 100 piece puzzle even though I was quite certain that he would never finish it - and he amazed me with how long he tried at it. When he finally did get frustrated with his lack of advancement (about 30mins of trying), I told him to ask Alexis to help and the two of them probably sat there for another 30mins working on it. They got about 2/3rds done before they got tired of it, but I was very happy to see Alexander stick with it so long! We also had kindergarden orientation and it went better than I expected - confirming my thoughts that Alexander will quite enjoy it. When it really comes down to it, I have security in him going to kindergarten early because Cameron will be there with him. I'd be worried that Alexander would feel scared and 'alone' (maybe even abandoned at first) except that I think he will gain much security with having someone from our family there too. And then during orientation I saw Cameron numerous times helping/watching out for Alexander - seriously, not a behaviour I see at home! I was quite proud of Cameron and encouraged to see the bond there. As for day to day, definitely still Alexander and Alexis play the most together.

Carter is still our guy that hangs all over and in the face of any stranger. It is hard for us to know how much is attachment related, orphanage related behaviour, or just personality. Emily had some of those same behaviours when she was young (would want strangers to pick her up or let her sit on them), so it makes me think it is 'possible' that it is just his personality.... but maybe not 'probable'. All three boys will be seeing Dr Baxter, a pediatrician at the Edmonton Adoption Clinic, on July 14th so am sure she will have some input. As for day to day - Carter usually spends most his time following Alexander and Alexis around, sometimes being included in their play, other times just playing nearby.

Eli....hmmm, Eli has seemed to move out of the 'innocence of babyhood' and right into the 'troublesome toddler'. His favorite thing seem to be trying to 'rowse' others, usually by hitting them or trying to steal their chair or toy. His favorite person to pick on is of course Carter since he is closest in age. Before when Eli would cry it was easy to assume that someone took something from him or hurt him, now it seems more likely that Eli was the one to start the fight. Don't get me wrong though, he is still a darling boy who is full of giggles and plays very well on his own - I just see more of the 'boy' in him coming out each day. Actually Eli is now acting pretty much the same way Cameron does! His next eye appointment is July 13th where I hope to find out whether or not surgery will be in his future. Oh, another change we have seen with Eli is that he is no longer as scared of strangers. He used to cry if someone looked at him, where now he will even smile for others when they talk/play a bit with him as long as he is in a comfortable environment (like at our home or while being held by Aaron or myself). I think this has come as his sense of security in our family has grown.

Overall, things continue to go quite well. They all sleep well, know most of the rules and don't try to pull fast ones on mom (cause it won't work). They've also simply learnt how things work around here - stuff like that EVERYONE is fed and that I'll make sure they all get to the table at the right time, and don't bother asking for a treat or more to drink if you didn't finish your food (veggies included), etc. Alexander no longer 'parents' Carter like he initially did. And would you believe that they have all gained over 2 lbs and about 2 inches each! I knew they had outgrown clothes already, but hadn't expected to see 2 inches in less than 5 months.

Lastly, we had some portraits taken of our whole family, so I will leave you with a bunch of pics of my cute kids (oldest to youngest: Emily, Cameron, Alexander, Alexis, Carter, Eli).

Monday, May 16, 2011

A little update

Whew! Where to start? Well, I'm happy to report that English is no longer an issue! Alexander is using sentences, Carter improper sentences, and Eli even now speaks a few words (up, mom, dad, bye, etc). With learning English has also come more freedoms for them around here, so the older boys now enjoy playing in our play room downstairs and more outside time. Also, Alexander and Alexis have begun to play together ALOT, but fight pretty good too :). Unfortunately with learning English comes forgetting their Russian - Alexander and Carter even speak solely English to each other now-a-days. Really, to meet them you wouldn't know that they didn't know English 3 months ago - not that they would talk to you much - maybe just Carter a bit (Alexander doesn't talk to people outside of our family for a good 10mins, and Eli mostly cries when someone outside of our family talks to him).

Kids have been pretty healthy too. We are still waiting for Alexander to get his dental work done. Am told to expect the appointment in June but haven't heard from them yet with a date. The sooner the better though because he does complain of pain when we are brushing his teeth. Just got back from Edmonton a week ago too from Eli's eye appointment. His eye alignment has improved with his glasses on since they are helping him focus, so he is now sort of borderline for the surgery. They now want us to come back in July to do a bunch more measurements and tests before deciding whether or not to do surgery.

Above is a shot Beth took because she thought it was hilarious. Eli was sick and therefore wanting to be glued to me, so into the ergo he went while I got started with supper. I think it is a good portrayal of being a mom.

So puppies have all just went home and the hundreds of emails (no exaggeration) have ceased! Now we are into chicks - 200 for now with 200 more coming in a month. Here are a few shots of life on the farm and the boys' first encounter with chicks.

Day to day life is still pretty busy in that there is always someone calling 'mom, mom', fighting, crying, needing something wiped, hungry, etc., but does feel much like 'normal'. I'm back to showering in the mornings (makes me feel human) and napping if needed (on the couch with many interuptions, but still getting the extra rest). The older 4 are now in soccer twice a week, bible study Tuesday nights, and kindergarten in the fall for Cameron and Alexander. He is a bit young but will likely go for two years to get him all caught up on English numbers, letters, and grammar, etc. I am not at all worried about him going in that it is only two days a week and I'm quite sure he will love the different atmosphere and activity since he gets bored often quickly.

Well that really brings you pretty much up to date - and I can't think of anything else at this late hour :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When It Rains...

Well there is a reason I haven't posted in so long - not that I'm a frequent poster anyways. It has been a tough couple weeks though!

First, like MANY others, the kids all decided to get sick with a nasty cold except for Emily. Never ending coughing, fevers, snotty-noses, cranky kids, and being woken up at night left this momma very cranky too. Yup, I think I have spent the last two weeks being annoyed at someone every waking minute.

We have also hired a guy to finish all our reno's, and as much as I will love having everything complete it has made each day that much busier. I've had to clear out my pantry, the bathroom, bookshelf in the hallway, and our bedroom - and find places to put everything in the meantime (king mattress behind the couch, dresser in the living room, etc). Most meals I am having to search through boxes to find what I need. Having to go downstairs to use the bathroom (and wipe dirty bottoms) has also taken more time, especially with having to pass the baby gate. He is also drywalling the hallway so I have to section that whole half of the house off everyday from the kids - which means all of us limited to the living room and kitchen everyday. Then when the work day (for him) is over, I start the daily cleaning and vacuuming in the 'construction zone' in order to allow the kids a few hours in the rest of the house. And then painting some evenings...

And puppies! We had a litter born March 9th and another born March 13th. The first litter came with some compilcations, so we lost one pup and then after bottle feeding another every 4-5 hours day and NIGHT for about 10 days it died too. Thankfully everyone else is doing well and bottle-feedings have ceased. I finally managed to update my webpage last night and start advertising to get them all sold. So now the emails should start.

Anyways, reno's should be done by the end of this week and the kids are now getting their health back. Our bathroom upstairs is also now in functioning order. English too is continuing to slowly get better. Alexander now is up to using about 3 word phrases which I understand most of the time with ease. One today that had me puzzled for a few seconds was 'Alexis markers Eli'.... which meant that Eli was getting into the markers that Alexis was using. Also understanding the words they mis-pronounce is an added challenge. So, all in all this week should be better than the last! Better go get your cheese though cause this was a lot of 'whine' :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Eli's Bath

As I am sure I've mentioned before, at first the boys were all scared of having a bath. That changed quickly with Alexander and Carter, but Eli has been slower to come around. The change this past week has just been heartwarming, and also sad in a way...

Although Eli had stopped crying at baths, he still has been very uneasy - basically doesn't move, will just hold a toy, wimpers and whines when I pour a little water anywhere on him, etc. Two baths ago we had some break throughs. He started the bath gasping for air everytime I poured some water down his shoulders, tummy, or back. I then got him actually playing with a toy and after that he started to 'experiment' a bit. He would kick his leg a little just to see what it felt like. He would look at his wet hand and then very gingerly put it to his mouth to feel and taste it, and then stare at it some more. I also managed to get him to play a game where I would put a wet cloth somewhere on him and he had to pull it off (although he was quite unsure of this at first, it did catch on). And then tonight at bathtime something amazing happened... he was SPLASHING! A bath or two ago I started to grab his hands and smack the water with it to make little splashes because he usually acted like he was scared to touch the water. Tonight he started doing it (repeatedly) all on his own. No gasps tonight, lots of playing, and more exploring! He would put a wet toy in his mouth and then look at me to make sure he wasn't in trouble. He initiated the cloth game. He held out his hand over and over again for me to pour water on it. It was almost like he was enjoying a bath like a typical 20mth old, except discovering everything for the first time.

It was heartwarming to watch him discover these new sensations, have fun, and lose his fear. It was sad to thing of what it must have been like 'before'. Aaron saw him the other day with a toy in his mouth and asked me if it was okay - normally I wouldn't really like it, but I know that he was not ever allowed to do that in the orphanage, and how much babies use their mouths for discovery (and simply enjoy it) - so it is okay for Eli. It is actually great for Eli.

While we are on Eli, we picked up his glasses a couple days ago. They are a little big for him so slide down his nose constantly, but were the smallest they had. He looks very cute in them, so here is a picture I took after his bath tonight. No troubles getting him to smile when I pulled out the camera!