Paperworking, Learning, & Thanking
Hi Everyone! We’ve been rolling along with the adoption journey so we thought we’d type up a quick update.
For our home study, we have about 12 bajillion pages of documents to fill out, get notarized, and upload. We started out DEMOLISHING those things and checked off a ton of items in the first week or 2. Blake really took charge of this part and handled all the financial statements, the organization, the appointments, and he’s pretty much amazing. Here is Blake getting fingerprinted for our home study…
Good news…we got a letter saying we’re not criminals! That’s a relief.
We have slowed down a bit on the paperwork because now we are to the part where we have several essays to write, like about spiritual walk with Christ, what our childhood was like, our families, our reason for adopting, and sorts of personal information. We’re taking our time on the essays so they’ll be well written and from the heart. We’re hoping to put a dent in them in the coming weeks during our days of traveling to Africa and back. Hopefully we’ll be disciplined enough to work on them on the plane instead of just sleeping and watching movies.
Yesterday (Saturday), we went to a seminar at UAB hosted by the International Adoption Clinic. It was sssoooooo educational. Like, how do people even adopt internationally without going through a seminar like this?! We learned so, so much. The clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic, made up of medical, emotional, and developmental components. They have pediatricians specializing in internationally adopted kids, who are familiar with the common maladies like parasites, malnutrition, abuse, and more. There’s also psychologists who know all about attachment and trauma, occupational therapists who understand the repercussions of institutionalization on a child’s development, and even family counselors who help you and your child navigate questions about racial identity. Every person who works at the clinic is an adoptive mom. That speaks volumes because this is not just their career, it’s an extension of their lives.
We really enjoyed learning so much about what to expect. I’m the type of person who takes comfort in information. The more info I can get, the more prepared and confident I feel. So even though spending 8 hours on a Saturday in a lecture hall is not my idea of a fun weekend, it was extremely beneficial, and we are so glad we did it. We’re thankful that this clinic exists in our city. It’s one of only 2 in the Southeast, and the other is at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. So people from Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia travel long hours to come to this clinic here in Birmingham. We will definitely be utilizing their pre-adoption and post-adoption services.
One thing I took away from the seminar was a statement one occupational therapist said, “We want to educate you and let you know the dangers of expecting a ‘fantasy child’ who is healthy and perfect in every way, developmentally speaking. The odds of adopting a child like that from an institution is slim to none, and you need to know that up front.” When you decide to adopt internationally, you just have to understand that your child will more than likely not be on the same level as other children developmentally, academically, and in many other ways. This is something we of course know, but in the back of your mind you kinda think, “Well maybe my child will not have those issues. Or if he does, maybe he’ll catch up really quickly.” I think that’s just natural to want that for your child. It was certainly sobering to hear the statistics of children adopted from institutions:
We learned that 50% of these children are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD due to high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the brain. 50% have language disorders. 40% have learning disabilities. 20% will need some form of special education. They’re likely to have sensory or auditory processing disorders. And here’s the big one: nearly 80% of all internationally adopted children are delayed in at least one area, and 45% are delayed globally (in all areas). We learned that children adopted after age 3 (which is likely for us) will take about a year to learn to speak English well. And after that, it could take up to 7 years to catch up to his peers in reading and writing. 7 years!
And those are just developmental issues! Not to mention the emotional needs of a child who’s experienced deep trauma and grief. In other words, it’s almost a guarantee that our child will have some of these challenges to hurdle after returning home. We’re learning all we can now to be as prepared as possible (and having an occupational therapist for a mom doesn’t hurt either).
I have to say that hearing all these facts about how children are so negatively impacted by institutions is nothing new for me. I am proud to work for an organization that seeks to preserve families and establishes means for orphans to be cared for in a loving home rather than in an institution. If anyone is still confused about how orphanages are bad for kids, just go to the seminar I just went to. I could go on for days about the negative repercussions of children in institutions, and so could these doctors and therapists!
There’s one more quick update I want to share with y’all. We know that this adoption is going to cost a lot of money (we’re estimating around $42,000). We’re going to apply for grants, and we hope they’ll bring in a significant amount of money. We’ll also be doing some fundraisers, so be on the lookout for those opportunities! But in the meantime, we’ve got a Pure Charity account where people can make a tax-deductible donation.
Y’all…we have been totally floored and completely humbled by the outpouring of generosity. We’ve had 4 awesome folks donate to us so far. And 4 doesn’t sound like much. But these 4, big-hearted people have donated $3708! That’s an average of $927 per donation!!!! Seriously?! That’s incredible!! It’s such a blessing to see the Lord move and stir hearts for the cause of the fatherless. We are so thankful and humbled by y’all’s willingness to give, and there are just no words to express the depth of our gratitude. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.