Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Happy I Could Cry!

After a very encouraging phone call from our social worker last night, I called our pediatric neurologist's office and nearly begged for an earlier appointment. Only a few hours later, the lady in charge of scheduling called back and said they can fit us in on MONDAY! With a video on the way and the neurologist appointment in less than one week, the holidays are getting brighter and brighter!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


We are hosting Thanksgiving again this year, and although life has been a little crazy over the last year, we have so much to be thankful for.

I'm thankful that I have a loving husband, a wonderful family, and the greatest circle of friends. This is my first year to be a full-time professor, and this is my first year since the first year of high school that I haven't seen my knee surgeon for even the smallest appointment! And of course, seeing Rai's picture and now knowing we have only about one month before we obtain the adoption decision is so exciting!

So I wrap up this list of posts today with a question, what are you thankful for this year?

Lifebooks and Family Stories

One year ago today was Thanksgiving Day, and one year ago today was also the day my Aunt Sandy passed away. Only a few hours after our Thanksgiving meal, my cousin left to take her a plate. When she called, I knew immediately why. My Aunt Sandy had lost the will to live many months beforehand, and when she refused to get out of bed, she immediately went downhill. By Thanksgiving Day, she was in no condition to leave the Retirement Home safely and did not seem to be concerned that her unwillingness to get out of bed meant missing Thanksgiving with the family. When we learned that she had passed away in her sleep, part of us was relieved that she would no longer suffer, but part of us was angry (at her for giving up, at us for letting her give up, at everyone). Needless to say, it was a rough holidays of grieving, and it did not help that she wasn't buried until many months later. Although we still grieve the loss of a great woman, the memory of her lives on in our stories. From the moments where she locked my Aunt Pat out of her own home for a good laugh to the many great summers I spent with her, we will have many laughs in her honor this year and many years to come.

This brings me to a slightly different topic. As we prepare for the possible addition of Rai to our family, I am reminded of the many people Rai will never have an opportunity to meet. In addition to those we have lost recently, Rai was born on the same day as Aaron's grandfather, Poppa Bob. I never had the opportunity to meet Poppa Bob but have heard such wonderful stories. Rai will also never meet my grandparents, and I am especially sad that he (and Aaron) will never meet my grandfather, Gordon Burnside.

Now that we are so close to obtaining approval for Rai's adoption, I am starting to plan out a Lifebook for Rai, which tells a story of Rai's life before, during, and after his adoption. It is far different from a typical scrapbook, and it's incredibly personal content allows an adopted child to hear the story of their adoption while understanding that their story is not just an "adoption story." To further emphasize this point, I would like to include a series of pages for each family member in Rai's life. This can include his birth family, his foster family, and his adoptive family (us). I would also like to include pages on the family members Rai will never meet but will shape his memories as he grows older. I want to be sure he remembers hearing the stories of Poppa Bob falling and breaking the toilet just as he hears the stories of his aunt asking what made the tree was scared (petrified tree). So this year, I'd like to ask each family member to donate pictures (scanned is fine) and stories. Although I won't share Rai's personal lifebook publicly, I would be more than happy to share the stories of our family.

First Birthday Tomorrow

Yes, tomorrow is Rai's first birthday, and we have mixed emotions. It's an exciting time since he will be celebrating Tol, a Korean traditional first birthday http://www.lifeinkorea.com/culture/tol/tol.cfm, sometime in the next few hours (it is almost the 23rd is Korea now). At the same time, we're sad that we'll miss his first birthday, and without an official approval from Holt at this time, we still feel uneasy announcing his adoption just yet. The good news is that this week, we've had many updates and even though things have been slow, they are moving along!

UCP Visit
Our visit to United Cerebral Palsy was Wednesday morning, and it was definitely an eye opener! We visited with the pre-school director who reviewed Rai's medical records and introduced us to a variety of children with CP and/or other needs. Each child was between 2 and 5 and their needs ranged from a tight heel cord requiring the use of a brace to keep the child from tip-toeing to much more severe needs. It was great to see such a caring staff and technology to help children with even severe needs communicate, walk, etc. The director also provided additional resources that might be helpful depending on Rai's needs when he arrives. They all seem to be very excited, so we will need to keep them posted as well as we continue on this adoption journey. So one task down, two more to go!

Video Coming Soon!
I bugged Holt once more this week after our updates from UCP and was promised a forward of any response they receive from Korea regarding the video. Friday morning, I received an email stating, "We took the video, but it is too short. He was not cooperating. We can try again. Do you want us to send the video as is?" Hmmm. This is REALLY vague, but I could imagine what happened. Requesting a video from Korea is fairly rare, so it sounds like they asked Rai's foster mother to bring him to the agency. Since the original request (from Sept. 28) asked for a display of his development, they may have asked that he demonstrate everything on the development checklist. As many of you with young children realize, children do not respond well to on-to-spot performance, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. It sounds like he got tried/frustrated/etc. and started crying. I called Holt for clarification, and our contact agreed. We both decided that unless the video was only a few seconds long, it was probably enough to move forward with the second task. WHEW! They have asked the Korean agency to send what they have. Once Holt receives it, they will overnight it to us for viewing. Ok. Almost two down...

Pediatric Neurologist
I was even more excited yesterday when the pediatric neurologist's office called. Earlier appointment? No. :-( The office staff only need additional information to complete Rai's file before our appointment. We're on the cancellation list in case an earlier appointment is available, but with the holidays approaching, it looks like we may have to wait until Dec. 17th. *sigh*

Committee Dates
When we first learned of the pediatric neurologist appointment date, we were frustrated that we may have to wait until January for a decision. The committee only meets on Thursdays, and we didn't think they would meet one day after our appointment. The next two Thursdays are holidays. :-( Luckily, our Holt rep. said they could meet the following day since they have already reviewed our file once before or the Tuesday after. This means we'll know before Christmas! (As long as we get the video before then, too.)

First Birthday Gift
We completed most of our Christmas shopping last weekend, so we have Rai's first birthday present! Since he won't be here this year, we'll wrap it and put it in his room. We'll do the same for his Christmas present, so he should be loaded with toys before he arrives!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Almost walking!!!

Happy Monday!

Thank you to everyone who has offered to help in our tasks we need to complete before we continue this adoption for this little guy. (As a side note, we decided on the first name Rai, so this will replace "little guy" from here on. We will keep his Korean name as a middle name.) Rai has some signs of mild Cerebral Palsy, such as not bearing weight on his heels or tip-toeing, and was born premature with a weight of only 2 pounds. Although he is developing quickly and now weighs over 19 pounds at nearly one year of age, our agency would like us to be prepared in the event that his needs are more severe than we originally thought. To show we have considered this carefully, we have been asked to do the following tasks:

1. Watch a video of Rai to better see his development
2. Visit with a child who has CP at United Cerebral Palsy (in Dallas)
3. Have a pediatric neurologist review his file for a consultation

We have already requested a video, so this requirement will speed up the turnaround time. Videos are not common with adoptions, but CP can vary greatly. We do have pictures, but this will give us much more information. In addition, we'll be excited to have our first baby video to help us get through this wait.

Rai's 1st birthday is November 23, which is next Sunday. It's hearbreaking that we will miss this birthday, but with any luck, his foster mother may be able to send pictures or possibly a video to capture it for us. As soon as we are given approval for his adoption, we will send a video of our family to Rai in Korea.

UCP Visit
Luckily, we can complete this task this week! The director was very understanding of our situation, so we have an appointment this Wednesday for a tour of the entire facility. UCP provides many services for children and adults in the area who have other special needs in addition to CP, including therapy and a Pre-K for children between 18 months and 5 years which provides an entire school day of therapy and development building. Our tour will include meeting the children in the Pre-K program, so we will visit with several children at once.

Pediatric Neurologist Consultation
So far, the earliest appointment for a Pediatric Neurologist is Wednesday, December 17. We are on the cancellation list, but with the holidays approaching, this list is quite long already. I put in one last plea to the office on Friday since we do not need an entire hour without the child present to examine. If I sound impatient, it is only because the committee only meets on Thursdays, and since the committee will most likely not meet the day after our appointment, we may not have a decision until after the new year. :-( We'll keep our fingers crossed that something comes up earlier.

Picking a name...
Choosing a name is not an easy task! When I let Aaron pick out our cat's name, he chose Little Wing Lucille. ("Little Wing " after the Stevie Ray Vaughn song, and "Lucille" after BB King's guitar.) Needless to say, we just call her Lucy. In the case of our baby, we were 99.9% sure we would be adopting a boy since girls are more popular in Korean domestic adoption. After we came to this realization, long before Rai's medical records came, we started brainstorming names. Aaron found it amusing to yell out signs during our roadtrips to see if they would work as a name. (I can't really see naming our child Buda or Lewisville.) My strategy of getting a baby name book was just an ineffective. Most of the 60,001 names are either the popular names throughout history (John, Robert, etc.) or they really aren't names a child would be caught dead with (Dacosta, Gormlee, Joktan, etc.). There are a few amusing lists of names (i.e. Names for Vegetarians or Future Nobel Prize Winners) but the book was overwhelming. The online lists were a little easier to take in, and from the list of names I had in mind, Aaron liked Rai the most.

I chose Rai because it's Japanese but could also pass as an American name. Although Rai is Korean, his name will very much reflect his personal identity. First name - Japanese (Japanese influence from my mom's side and my own work), Middle Name - Korean (his birth culture which we plan to add to our own family culture), and Last Name - American/European (the culture of his adoptive family and everyone else he will come in contact with once he arrives), although our last name, Young, is also a Korean name as well.

We nearly changed our minds because of the meaning (second son), but everyone seems to like it. Yes, he will have to endure "Rye, like the bread?" since it is pronounced the same, but there are worse nicknames. Amy also has a friend will the same name (different spelling - Ry), so it is a real name. :-)

And now for the finale - Almost Walking!
On Thursday, we received an update from Holt with Rai's recent doctor's appointment. Since the doctor was on vacation in October, this is the first update we have received since early October. Words can't begin to express our excitement. NO MENTION OF TIP-TOEING OR CP! This does not mean these things are no longer an issue, but he is not currently showing the symptoms that were flagged for CP before. For example, he was crawling rather quickly, but his lack of sitting balance was a sign of neurological problems. Now he is not only sitting without any support but standing holding on to furniture!! (Baby gates, toilet seat locks, door/cabinet locks are becoming a sudden realization. Aaron has already installed a few cabinet locks, but we have much to do before we travel to Korea!) And he's getting bigger! At 19 pounds, I think this puts him in the 12 month clothing size. It's hard to predict what size he will be wearing by the time he comes home.

I think that is all for now. I'll post sometime after our UCP meeting this week with updates, and hopefully we will hear about an earlier appointment and/or the video in the meantime.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A few more steps to go

After talking to our social worker and hearing back from the committee, we have been asked to complete a few more steps before we can proceed with this little guy's adoption. Yes, it's heart-breaking to hear that because we are a young, childless couple we need to undergo more tasks to show that we are ready for this particular child. At the same time, however, we can understand the concern of the committee in wanting to see a little more information before they can approve our request. We will do whatever it takes.

Last night through this morning we have already contacted several people and hope to expedite the process by being organized. :-) Aaron smiled and said that because he's married to an efficiency expert, he's not worried about the delay. We had already researched many of these tasks (i.e. consulting a pediatric specialist in the child's needs), so completing them will not be a problem - just a little more time. So far, we've done a great job of delegating tasks and continuing to read anything related to the child, the child's possible needs, adopting, and parenting we can get our hands on. Aaron has put Linux on the back-burner for a bit to focus on the adoption. The other morning I caught him pacing while lost in thought. Instead of contemplating a solution to his in-process Linux operating system, he was reviewing information from brochures our social worker gave us.

So to make a long story a little less long, we'll be going back to the committee after doing a few more things. Since we already planned to do these tasks anyway before we left for Korea, this process will mean completing these tasks a little earlier than we expected.

In the meantime, we will send in our I-600A (immigration pre-approval) to help expedite the process when we do obtain approval. This normally takes a month and a half in Texas, so we will send in the forms tomorrow and get the ball rolling!

Thank you for all of your support! To the many families who have found us through the Holt Forum or friends of those reading this blog, we have loved hearing all experiences related to adoption and waiting child adoption and have learned a great deal from everyone! To our family, thank you for hanging in there with us through this bumping road! To our friends, thank you for your help and resources!