Thursday, June 14, 2012

I need a Jar, a Dictionary, and a Spreadsheet

Recently, I mentioned that I had a newly renewed interest in pursuing an international adoption in the future. The idea had been slowly reintroduced to me over a couple months, but what really caught me by the heart and dragged me in was Lora's story, which I found through a mutual friend. Someday, I might muster the courage to reach out to Lora, but right now, I am just going to cower behind my computer screen and hope she doesn't catch wind of the fact that I have been obsessively stalking her adoption story (and by stalking, I of course mean, reading avidly).

Writing about it here like an idiot probably isn't helping matters.

Anyway, she has given me a lot to think about, as have some of the ladies on the Army Officers' Wives Facebook page... But mostly Lora (can I call you "Lora?" Geeze, my interwebz etiquette must really be lacking... I have no idea how to behave, ugh). I don't want to tell her story, because she does such an amazing job doing so herself--seriously, take a few days, and go read it; it's funny, and heart-warming, and heart-wrenching, and scary, and amazing. So is the rest of her blog, but I had enough trouble getting through the adoption posts without someone trying to wipe snot all over my legs... The rest might come later. If ever (although, I read her new posts everyday).

(^See? I ramble).

Anyway, I was particularly intrigued by her story because (aside from the fact that her daughter was born in Ukraine) she and her soldier-husband chose to adopt a child with special needs. In her first adoption post, she mentioned falling in love with a picture of a child, knowing that child was supposed to be a part of her family, and then looking into adoption. I, on the other hand, had researched the shit out of this topic a few years ago, and know, more or less, what lies along that path. Even still, I couldn't help but follow her links, which led me to a non-profit organization called Reece's Rainbow that advocates for special needs children living in Eastern European orphanages who need families. I felt as though Lora had issued a challenge to me, and I was willing to accept, despite my unease with the nature of the organization (not what they do... just to say that the whole ministry thing sort of puts me ill at ease, not being Christian and all...).

So, I began to "thumb" through the pictures of waiting children they have posted, wondering if I would feel the connection she felt, which eventually (in a round-about sort of way) led her to her daughter.

Lucky for everyone,  I was not love-struck this go around.

Sure, "lucky" probably seems a bit harsh, but I am nowhere near ready for this, and I would have jumped headfirst into it if I had been shot by cupid's mom arrow.

Phew. Bullet dodged. For now.

But, it did make me think about adoption in a whole new way: Would I be willing to adopt a special needs child? That's a really big undertaking, especially on top of all of the other things that can come with adoption. Being married to an adoptee is probably a much different experience than parenting one, but there are still unique challenges. I started to mull it over, because, of course I would have to be ok with it before asking if my husband was. And then I called him and we had a short chat about it.

His major concern, of course, was whether adopting meant straying from our baby 2013 plan. No. Definitely not. I'm talking 5 years down the road minimum (I think...eek). And then I asked him about considering special needs. He was quiet for a minute, and I could immediately tell he was on the same page I was: yes, but not really.

A lot of those illnesses and diseases and conditions scare me. Terrify me. Not all, but most. Is that bad that I am admitting that? I feel like I am being insensitive for wanting to reserve myself for a "healthier" child, if not a healthy one. It just seems like a dick move to say "here is my list of approved illnesses and conditions." And do they even do that? Either way, I am going to be in for a lot of research in the next few years (to go along with my "adoption jar"). I knew I should have gone to med school, even if to just understand some of the terminology that goes along with a special needs child (damn you, chemistry, you heinous bitch, you).

And then there is the Army.

We have big dreams of living overseas when our children are older--old enough to remember it and go do things. But bringing a child with special needs into the family can potentially kill that dream in an instant; if it's determined there won't be adequate facilities to address the needs of that child overseas, they won't let us go. It's a practice I can both appreciate and hate at the same time--best interests over dreams is no contest, but it still makes me sad that I would be losing that dream.

It's not off the table. Again, this is me rambling and trying to work through a very complicated series of thoughts and emotions. I really need to focus my attentions on things a little less taxing like which kind of apple pie to serve at the next FRG meeting or how to explain to my husband that 11 hours of sleep IS sleeping in.

So, I think I will start collecting the names of agencies and looking into how much this will cost so I can get to saving... While making PubMed my best friend.


  1. You're epicly awesome for even considering it. Maybe it makes me a jerk, but I'll admit up front that when (if) we adopt, it will not be a special needs child. I will be the first to admit that I do not have what it takes.
    We do actually have every intention of adopting one day. Not for several years, though. We're expecting to adopt an older child (NOT a baby, I am DONE with babies), and we'll probably get a child who is around Missy's age (a little younger probably).
    It is MY desire to actually be foster parents. Jonathan is unsure about that. Not that he doesn't want to - he's afraid of falling in love with a kid he can't keep. In any case, it's pretty likely we'll adopt out of "the system."

    1. I wish you guys luck! I completely understand Jonathan's fears--that and the nature of the beast while being in the military are really the only reasons we are going to avoid that route.

      If we adopt from Ukraine, it's most likely it will be a child who is 5 or older. We were talking about it last night, and we think we would like to let E continue to be the eldest. So we're a few years out, as well, haha.

  2. Never say Never :)

    The truth is, every single kid out there who is up for adoption has "special needs". All of them are the product of some set of circumstances that resulted in being unable to remain with their birth family. That in and of itself leaves emotional scars, even on very young children. And if they have been in an institutional setting or foster care…..they will have "special needs" by default. They may not be physical needs, but emotional needs can be just as much if not more difficult and taxing to deal with.

    The fact that our daughter, Vi, needs leg braces and physical therapy because of her CP isn't any different from my other kids each of who have quirks and needs different from the others who are biologically mine. Some of them have other medical stuff (minor), some of them have emotional stuff, they struggle in different areas at school etc. Being the mother of 5 I have long since outgrown the idea that there is such a thing as "normal". But she was a kid who needed a family, just like any other kid living in an orphanage. CP is easier to deal with than the emotional & mental toll of spending 6 years in an orphanage and having no clue how to be a part of a real family. I imagine many of those issues can carry over to kids who have been in foster care as well. I hope that more people see our story and are less afraid/concerned about adopting an older special needs child. I do not believe the risk is any higher or the challenge any greater than adopting a "healthy" child.

    Ukraine has a law in place right now that prevents the adoption of children under the age of 5 unless they have specific medical conditions on a "List" they have created. If you are interested in talking about it more or have questions I would love to hear from you, even if you are a few years away from any sort of adoption.

    1. I completely understand that there will be special needs, anyway, I'm just struggling with how all of that will work. If nothing else, I have learned an enormous amount in just the last couple days (I was just reading about HIV+ adoption last night and that info just blew me away!). We had always planned adopting an older child, because of my husband's situation, so age has never been much of a worry. I guess a lot of my fears/nervousness/anxiety come from that fact that I just have no idea how the process works, anymore. A few years ago when we first starting discussing things, the program in Ukraine was so much different. I don't think it would be a good situation for anyone is we were referred to a child that we didn't feel we had the tools to take care of...and then what? I'm also a little nervous about how EFMP works (we are mostly likely going to have to enroll my daughter when we PCS next, anyway, due to her VAS heart murmur). I would LOVE to pick your brain, Lora, and learn anything and everything you are willing to discuss! If I add an "email me" button, would you mind shotting me a note? Or shoot me a pm through Facebook? (Also, HOW DO YOU KNOW KERRY?!<---killing me)

  3. Haha, Kyra! I do know Kerry, her older sister is my best friend. :)

    Feel free to email me :)

    The Ukraine program is a total moving target. But the important thing to know is your social worker who does your home study has to put specific conditions down that you are willing to accept/able to handle, so Ukraine or any other country for that matter isn't going to give you a child with a known medical need that you are not comfortable with enough to put in your home study.

    So, yeah, send me an email! :)

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am going to try to get my thoughts under control and send you an email tonight :-D! I appreciate it so much!