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Q and A

How am I doing?

You know, I honestly feel like I am being carried on the wings of eagles.  As horribly as I am missing my family back home, I am doing okay here on my own.  The Lord is truly helping me to stay focused on the things I need to get done here so that I can go home asap.

The hardest part is the loneliness.  I am so used to a loud, crazy house all day long.  I am so not loving the silence of being alone.  I’ll take a loud house any day…it is so much more fun than an empty apartment.

I am also doing so much better with finding healthy stuff to eat.  I even found some tomato sauce in a jar and some pasta.  I’m good to go.  Yes, for all of you who mentioned the yummy dairy here, you are so right.  I am not such a fan of dairy, but this country sure does make excellent yogurt.  Oh my goodness, and their white chocolate is to die for (not really).  Chocolate is dairy too, right?  And they make the best feta cheese I have ever had. 

The Father continues to take such amazing care of me. I’m taking one day at a time and trusting Him in all things.

Is Anthony coming to join me?

Yes!  We’re just waiting to find out about whether the judge will waiver my ten day waiting period, or not.  Once we know, it will give us a clearer idea of how much longer I will need to be here.  Then we’ll book Anthony’s ticket. He will just come to help me fly home with the girls. I miss my husband something ridiculous. This is the longest we have ever been apart, it is no fun at all.

How are my children at home doing?

Remarkably well, actually.  They have astounded me. My Dad and Beth keep them really busy during the day, so I guess they don’t have too much time to miss Mommy.  We Skype, which really helps too.  Praise the Lord for Skype. Even my sweet little five year old seems to doing just fine in my absence.

God is taking care of every care and concern of my heart.  He’s so good that way.

Why does it seem that Harper has done so much better than Hailee in the orphanage?

Well, she has.  So very much better. I am certainly no expert on these things, so I don’t really fully understand why.  Harper is also very tiny, but nowhere near as small as Hailee is for her age.  I just found out today that Hailee weighs 7.5 kilograms. What’s that…about sixteen or seventeen pounds? At almost five years old!  My guess is that Harper weighs just over 20 pounds, but she’s only two.

What I can tell you, just from observation during my visits, is that Harper does seem to get a lot more stimulation than Hailee.  They are in seperate rooms.  Harper is with the ‘typically developing’ two and three year olds.  Hailee, on the other hand, is in a very small room.  There are only five other children with her.  It is the room for the children with severe special needs, those who are unable to walk or perhaps even sit up. Being in a crib all day is, very sadly, the only life they know.

I really do not know at what point in her life Hailee ended up in that room.  I guess we will never know when she stopped developing like the other children around her.  It is impossible to know her history. 

Harper, on the other hand, seems to have done pretty well developmentally. She is a cuddle bug of note. She’s smart and very determined. 

How is Hailee’s development?

Not good at all.  She is extremely delayed.  I was wrong when I originally posted that she is unable to sit.  She can.  But, she cannot sit for long.  She sits for a short time, and then rolls over onto her back again.  She seems to tire very easily.  She cannot put much weight on her legs, they just give in underneath her. She can get up onto her knees, but then just rocks back and forth. She is definitely most comfortable on her back.

Many of you who have journeyed with me for a while here on my blog know that our Haven also has some profound special needs.  We adopted Haven eighteen months ago from China. She is nine years old.  You can read her story on my sidebar.  She was adopted before us, but the family disrputed (ended the adoption).  When we committed to adopt Haven, we obviously knew her story, the fact that she was non-verbal, the delays, the behaviors she displayed etc.  We were told that she was Autistic.  We were never convinced, and I set out to educate myself as much as possible about children in institutions and the things that can go ‘wrong’.  I read and read to try and gain as much understanding as I could about kids growing up in orphanages.  I wanted to be prepared to parent Haven, and I looked for other things that could possibly have been reasons that would explain why she was so delayed.

I tell you that because I have noticed a few things about Hailee over the last few days.  Yes, she does have Down syndrome, and that absolutely does account for some of her delays and behaviors.  But I am feeling like there is more.  We’re talking about an almost five year old child who pretty much lies on her back and stares at the ceiling all day.  Anyone would go a bit crazy, wouldn’t you think?  She definitely seems to have learned to deal with life by developing certain coping strategies.  A lot of what I see her do reminds me of all the things I have read about children who have Institutional Autism.  Rocking back and forth, moaning and grunting sounds, clicking sounds, very small stature, scratching herself out of habit (behind her ears are raw from scratching), twitching movements, lack of eye contact.  I could be wrong, but that is just my gut feel and Mommy instict right now.  I think that sweet Hailee does a lot of what she does just as a means of coping with what life has dealt her.

We have also not ruled out the possibility of Cerebral Palsy together with her Down syndrome.  There is no way of knowing until we get her home.

And then, of course, there is the fact that she is on a very strong drug.  Yesterday I was told that she is not on a sleeping medication like I was originally told.  Hailee is on a tranquilizer.  Oh my heart.

One of the things Hailee does a lot is rock, it seems to be very soothing to her. I brought this toy for her to play with and she loves to bite on it. She rocks, and bites, at the same time.  She seems to find things that she can suck on. Anything that brings comfort. She is just so darling. How can she possibly be five next month?

Do they both have heart conditions?

Yes, Both Hailee and Harper have heart defects.  I have no idea how bad it is, we’ll have to get them checked out at home.

Has Hailee smiled yet?

YES…today for the first time.  I cried such happy tears.  I was bouncing her around on my knee and she thought it was the funniest thing ever!  Such pure joy.

How old is Harper?

She turned two last November.

Will Hailee need 24 hour care?

Um, probably, but so do all my other kiddos, so I guess it’s not going to make things that much more difficult. Being a mother is a 24 hour job, no matter what their needs are.

How do our children at home feel about Hailee and Harper coming home, and how is it going to affect them?

LOVED this question, we get asked it a lot.

Bringing Hailee and Harper into my children’s lives is the best thing that could ever happen to them!  Really.

The seed of adoption is already so firmly planted in their hearts, so that’s a non-issue.  But for all the rest, oh my goodness, these two girls are going to teach my children so very much.  They are going to learn to love even more unconditionally.  They are going to learn to give even more of themselves (even when they don’t feel like it). They are going to learn even more patience.  They are going to learn what it means to sacrifice.  They are going to learn how to give, and give some more. They are going to learn the art of serving, right in their own home.  They are going to learn the true value of little angels who are so different to them.  They are going to learn what it means to be their sister’s biggest advocates and biggest cheerleaders.

These two little girls are going to help build my children’s character.  They will help them to become better young women and young men some day.  Their hearts are about to be touched so deeply by two of God most precious angels.

Yep, my children are going to continue to learn, learn, learn….just as their parents are.

It’s a beautiful journey to become more like Jesus for every single one of us in our family. There are no negatives to us adopting Hailee and Harper.  Not one.

Did Hailee’s extreme delays take me by surprise?

No, not in the least.  We have always known in our hearts that she would be very far behind Harper in development.  The Lord prepared our hearts for that a long time ago. Nothing of what I see surprises me at all.

In the Ukraine, special needs children live in a baby house until they are about 4-5 years old.  Around that time they are transferred to a mental institution. When we found Hailee, we were absolutely positive that if that were to happen, she would not survive.  There is no way that she could survive that life. She does not have the strength.  I have been told that 95% of children with Down syndrome die in these mental asylums. Hailee would become part of that statistic. No doubt in my mind.

We knew that she had to be rescued before it was too late! No matter what was ‘wrong’ with her.  No matter how hard the journey may become.  No matter what lies ahead.  She had to be rescued.

And that’s why I’m here…simply because God said GO!

When will I be able to bring the girls back to the apartment with me? 

As soon as court is over and the adoption is official. Oh how my heart is longing for that day.

Do Hailee and Harper know each other in the orphanage?

No, I would be very surprised if they ever laid eyes on each other before I got here–even though they live in rooms opposite each other.

I thought that with the Ukraine you only got referred your child once you were in the country?

I believe that is true if you adopt a healthy child.  Many adoption agencies and ministries in America advocate for children in this country who have special needs.  You get matched with your child in the USA. 

Am I afraid that the orphanage will give a ‘bad report’ to the judge about me?

No, that does not bother me at all.  If there is one thing I know that I know, it is that the woman in that place SEE the love that I have for my children. As soon as I walk in I hear “Mama”, and they give me big smiles (well, most of them do).  They have finally stopped asking me on a daily basis if I am sure that I want them, and if I know what is wrong with them. 

They know that Hailee and Harper will be loved and cherished beyond description.

Where are you staying right now? It is the same place as the beginning of your journey? Does the orphanage use cloth or disposable diapers? How often are the babies bathed? What kinds of food do Hailee and Harper eat? Can they feed themselves? Does either one crawl/walk/attempt to do these things? Do they get their teeth brushed daily? Are the orphanage people warming up to you now a little bit? Do they cringe when you take lots of photos?

~~~  I’m staying in an apartment in the center of the city.

~~~ Yes, I’ve been in the same place since I got to Kharkiv.

~~~ I’ve noticed that the orphanage uses a combination of cloth and disposables.

~~~ I think they only get sponged down, never put in a bath tub. I haven’t even seen a bath tub at the orphanage.

~~~ They only feed them soup, porridge and juice. Not much variety.  I took some snacks with me to see if the girls would eat them.  No.  Neither girl knows how to chew solid food [yet].

~~~ Harper can definitely crawl.  She can stand with help.  I have a feeling she will be walking very soon after coming home.

~~~ No, I doubt they have ever had their teeth brushed.

~~~ No, they don’t seem to mind if I take pictures.

Sweet Harper trying to eat her cookie. She loved it, but spat it out as she was eating it. She had no idea how to keep it in her mouth.  She’ll get it soon enough. Oh my goodness, she is such a little angel girl. I can tell you something now–this sweetie is going to have every family member wrapped around her little finger.  Yep, I can tell.

How do you pronounce my name?

Last year I gave a clarification post on the pronounciation of my name here on my blog.  You can watch the little video my family made right here.

I know, I know, my mother had a crazy idea when she named me.

Today was such a sweet day.  Oh to see Hailee smile, no, she actually giggled, was just incredible.  I have been wondering how much she feels emotionally.  It is so hard to tell with a child as delayed as what she is.  Today I saw HOPE!  She absolutely loved being bounced around and played with.  She was actually being a little silly. Tears flowed like rivers. 

HOPE! Such a beautiful word. Something that every single child deserves.

My heart is full to overflowing tonight.