Monday, October 31, 2011

Batman, Spiderman, Thing, Oh My!!

This year Daniel took dressing up to the extreme! We were lucky to find a box of costumes at a yard sale this summer for a buck! In it were the title costumes as well as several others!

We started the season off right with a trip to the pumpkin patch! We took a hayride, picked out the perfect pumpkins, took a horse ride, and had Daniel's face painted! It was a great day!!

Then we headed to CVS for there kids event Halloween party where we got a free 5x7 photo and a bag with glo-sticks and candy! We had a good time there! Daniel chose his Spiderman costume and then we followed with a great outdoors photo shoot at home!

Next we had Daniel's Halloween party at school. I got to help numerous boys in and out of their costumes! I think I dressed about 10 Spidermans and then other assorted costumes! Daniel chose his Batman costume that day! I just love Daniel's Kindergarten teacher and class and can't say how thankful I am that he got that particular class!

We carved our pumpkin a few days ago and Daniel totally chose the template we used. I think it turned out pretty well!

Finally we trick or treated with my sister, her son, my niece and her two girls. Trying to get a photo of all 4 didn't go as planned but i happen to think they are all pretty adorable! Daniel of course chose to be Thing for the main event!!

Oh and a little surprise came our way this past weekend --- can you believe it -- snow!! I hope we're not in for a tough winter!! Troy tends to shovel the driveway chanting "Florida, Florida, Florida!!"

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Process and Progress We've Made

First of all I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have showed us so much support and been so happy for us since we shared our latest news. It means so much to us to have each of you in our lives and to know you are praying for us.

We've completed all the initial paperwork (with the exception of our medical reports). We're simply waiting for Troy's new insurance to go into effect November 1st. Daniel's medical form was completed today!! We turned in all of our paperwork last Friday and had our first initial safety visit to our house. This visit doesn't really count towards the homestudy, but it's a way to do a preliminary check on an inquiry family.

We were also able to knock out our fingerprint cards because they were able to bring the fingerprinting equipment to our home and do them right on our kitchen counter!!

The initial visit was a simple walk-through of our house, checking for fire alarms, and other safety issues. We passed the initial phase just fine. We were also given a sample of a foster agreement to hold on to and review because often times a placement happens quickly and when they bring the child they want your signature right away on a form and it can be a bit over-whelming at the time to try to read it. This way we know what it says in advance.

The paperwork was much easier than the international version of adoption paperwork. It was pretty much the standard documents (budget sheet, background check) and then several more localized papers.

We were told the fingerprints and background checks would take approximately 3 weeks to come back. During this time we can set up appointments for the homestudy meetings or we can wait until after they come back. Since Troy is in his training program we are waiting to see how tough the training he is in is before we try to schedule any evening meetings.

We do get to "drive" this time around which is completely different from international adoption. In other words the timing belongs to us. We can go as fast or as slow as we want.

I can't lie - I would love to speed right on through, but I know we have to be patient and let Troy finish the training (and yes - this is serious training involving written tests and all the physical training stuff as well). So while I would love to move forward I'm trusting that God is in control of the situation and we'll become ready when He is ready.

We have at least 3 other meetings and then we'll have to wait until the homestudy is completed. At that point, I'm not sure when we would actually become licensed, but I believe it doesn't take long. There is training involved also, so we will be taking care of that as well in the interim. We do have prior training from Daniel's adoption also and it is comparable to what they teach.

I feel good about what has been completed and we were told we were off to a great start! I know these next few weeks will fly by and with the holidays coming, we'll be very busy!!

I'll be updating soon about our pumpkin patch visit and the costumes Daniel keeps showing up in in all the photos!! I'm helping with his Kindergarten "Fall" Party (they get to dress up!) on Friday so that should be loads of fun!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Journey To Another Child!!

CHANGE defined means to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

CHANGE is hard. CHANGE is unknown. CHANGE is scary.

But we're getting ready to do just that.

Troy and I have been talking for some time (upwards of two years now) about adding another child to our family. We've considered fertility shots (again), but decided (again) that it wasn't worth it when there are children already out there waiting.

We've wanted to go back to Russia for some time, but it's no secret that international adoption is expensive and we haven't been able to work out the finances without taking out significant loans, something we do not want to do.

We've talked about domestic infant adoption. Again, something we considered before but decided we were open to parenting an older child a child more than a year old.

We talked about foster to adopt. We're terrified of that. The thought of losing a child after caring for him/her for any length of time, whether it be a month or a year is heartbreaking.

We've talked and talked and talked. And talked some more.

Then we went to church. We haven't gone to church in a long time. We've made excuses, we've been busy, we've avoided the commitment of the time it takes out of our weekend. We were both guilty. I'd started asking Troy about church again, but we just couldn't seem to get ourselves together.

Troy went to the rifle range for the day and sat down next to a gentleman who was also sighting in some rifles (here comes hunting season!) They got to talking and guess what? That particular gentleman is the pastor of a church. Not just any church, but a church less than 10 minutes from our house. Here they sit at a rifle range almost an hour away and he preaches at a church almost in our neighborhood.

So we went and we listened and we learned. We loved the church. The people were friendly and a little girl took Daniel by the hand and led him to children's church for me. The pastor remembered Troy by name and was glad to see us. The message was inspiring. He mentioned that life wasn't always fair, but that the rewards in heaven would be. He mentioned that God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want him to. But God does listen and He does not forsake us.

I needed to hear that. I've been wallowing a bit in my sorrow of not beginning another international adoption.

Then Troy and I realized something. Here we sit with the means to care for another child, the heart to do it, an open home, and we're doing nothing about it.

We realized it was time for a CHANGE. A change not only in our thoughts, but our hearts. Could we, should we? Is this the way God wants us to go?

We contacted our local Department of Social Services a few weeks ago. We've been emailing with the family recruiter and we're getting ready to embark on a pretty amazing and a bit scary (for us) journey.

We're going to get licensed to foster with the intention to adopt through Virginia's foster care system.

Virginia does believe in reunification of the child with their birth parents or a member of the family, so Troy and I have to open our hearts to supporting the reunification, but also loving and forming what may become permanent attachments to the child in our care.

I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm hopeful.

I read that many of children do eventually become available for adoption, but it still scares me that we will get a child that won't. However, since we are willing and prepared to adopt, they will take that into consideration when choosing a child to place with us.

Surprisingly things can happen very quickly. We could be placed with a child within about 6-8 weeks aftercompleting all the requirements. Because we will be specifying a child younger than Daniel, it may take a bit longer.

Troy has started a new job which entails a training session that would make the timeline more like in the New Year for a placement. We're very excited about this change also, because it means he is home much more than he is now, and is part of what made our decision to foster-to-adopt that much more clear.

This weekend we will be working around the house to add a few safety features, ones we haven't had to worry about since Daniel is a bit older. We'll also be discussing changing our furniture and our guest bedroom around a bit to accommodate another child.

I hope you'll follow along, and pray for us and for the children we come in contact with, as we get ready to head on a new Journey right here in Virginia to find our second child, and love any child that may cross through our doorway, even if only for a little while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Report Card and Parent/Teacher Conference!

We're having a great week! Today Troy and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage and we've sort of come full circle - he's at his new job which is actually what he used to be doing early in our marriage and he's home each day now!! After so much time apart, we're so thrilled!!

We received Daniel's first report card last week! He had all "M"'s in his regular classes (reading, writing, math, science). M stands for "Meets Expections" and he had all + signs in his specials (art, music, library). Since you get either a + or -, I was thrilled!!

Troy escorted me to Daniel's first parent/teacher conference last night. I went in a little nervous because, even though Daniel has done extremely well in Kindergarten, it's no secret that I had to move him from one daycare to another and then from that daycare to another. Turns out I was making the right decisions!

His teacher RAVED about him! She said his vocabulary was almost better than hers! She also said that even though he received all "M"'s in his report card, he deserved all "E"'s for "Exceeds Expectations", but that they are not allowed to give "E"'s to any Kindergartners until the end of the year!

Futhermore, she said she had to move him to the HIGHEST reading level (with only two other children)! She said she could tell the difference already in his reading class and that she realizes that Daniel is going to have to be challenged constantly all year!!

We also had another teacher stop by who said she just had to meet the parents of Daniel because "he was so bright, smart and obviously happy"!! She went on to tell us that she sat down beside him one day when he was coloring and he looked over at her and said "Who are you?" So she gave her name and said "Who are you?" Of course he gave her his FULL name - he LOVES to use his middle name! She said "well then I'm going to work with you for a few minutes on…" (whatever the assignment was) and Daniel held up his thumb and first finger (measuring time) and said "You have this much time (about 2 inches) and then we're done here!" Apparently it's now the classroom joke between the teachers!

The funny thing is I never use that - he started that with negotiating bedtime. When I would tell him 10 minutes, he would hold about 3 inches and ask "Is it this much time?" so we would negotiate a span of inches for bedtime!!

I did warn her that I taught Daniel the time out sign the day before when we needed a break from playing or wrestling (with Troy!). I won't be surprised if she gets the time out sign from him next!!

She said he can do every task that is required and more!! She said she would never had known he had no English language or anything until almost two years old.

We left out of the conference just beaming!! Troy even gave me a high five!!

We're so proud of our son!!