Monday, March 26, 2012

Where Has the Time Gone?

Last Tuesday we celebrated Tatiana's 3rd "Gotcha" Day.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday I was back in cold, snowy Vladivostok waiting out the mandatory 10 day wait.  I was bored, excited and anxious all in one.  Bored from staring at the walls of a hotel with little to do, excited about our upcoming life together and anxious about the transition.  Finally, on Friday, March 20th, 2009, we were finally together, permanently.  

Here's a shot of Tatiana on that big day and every March 20th since!
"Gotcha" Days:  2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012

Three years later, this girl is the light of my life.  She is beyond smart and has a memory that sometimes scares me.  The plan this year for school was Young 5's but due to budget cuts that plan was scuttled.  Kindergarten was Plan B and it's been going well.  I have decided that it would best for her to repeat next year - to gain some additional age and maturity.  Academically, she's probably ready for first grade, but she struggles following directions and focusing.  Since this was the original plan anyway... it's now in motion!

In other areas of T's life, she adores her brother and her cousins.  She LOVES playing with other kids, which is part of the reason I knew she not only needed to be a sister, but she'd be great at it.  She's mastered the bike, WITH training wheels  (mom might not be ready for the next step) and is reading very well to boot.  She still loves music, singing and dancing - and would rather wear tights and "clack shoes" (think loud shoes that clack when you walk...) then jeans.  She's all girl - within 5 minutes of being home she'll disappear into her room and return 5 minutes later head to toe in princess.  She cracks me up!

Since "Gotcha" day is close to St Patrick's day -- here's my little leprechauns, celebrating:
Luck of the Russian-Irish to ya!

Since my green eggs and ham were not met with smiles, this year we tried green applesauce.  SCORE!
Finally, a quick Alex update since he's been sorely neglected in a majority of this post.  We had our FIRST haircut with no tears!  I couldn't believe we didn't even get a pout.  His language is coming on little bits each and every day as well.  He seems to be a perfectionist when it comes to language - almost as if he doesn't like to say things until he's sure he can say them properly.  It's amazing how much he knows, even if he doesn't SAY it.  

That's it for now... I am sure there are 100 things I am forgetting, but as usual, they've left my brain!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Whole Lot of Nothing!

I was about to report that I didn't have much to report... and then I realized that, well, I do have things to report!

Tatiana:  We are soon crossing the BIG 3 year anniversary!  3 years ago I was in Russia, impatiently awaiting my court appointment to adopt my sweet girl.  Lots of anniversaries on the horizon with Gotcha day and our home forever day as well.  Last weekend we finished Tatiana's home study chain.  When I contacted my social worker to schedule a date, she thought I was only talking about Alex because she said she felt like Tatiana had been home "forever" -- I have to agree!  

In other Tati news, she had dentist appointment this week to begin fixing her "grey tooth".  Almost 3 years ago she was kicked in the tooth by a very excited friend of the family.  Slowly over time the root of her tooth died due to the kick and her tooth turned grey.  The dentist watched it over time and was afraid with a dead root that the tooth would become infected.  Since it's a baby tooth, I figured we'd just wait until it feel out naturally.  However, the dentist warned that if it got infected, it could affect the nerves of the adult tooth and based on her x rays, he thought the adult teeth were still a year and a half off.  I was VERY nervous to have her undergo work on the tooth as I didn't want her growing up hating the dentist as much as I did (heck, still do).  He assured me that since her tooth was dead, she wouldn't even need Novocaine.  I was still leery but guess what.  She did perfectly.  She told me after that she was a little scared, but it didn't hurt.  The tooth is already MUCH lighter and she LOVES it.  She jumped out of the dentist chair and said "Oh, thank you, thank you!".  
A good recent "before" shot of the grey tooth.  

Alex:  Alex probably has the least to report this week.  While we did Tati's 3 year post placement report, we also took care of his 1 year post placement report.  Hard to believe that his court date anniversary is right around the corner as well!  This year has FLOWN by.

He desperately wants to talk.  Words are coming more and more each day.  Some day soon I regret wanting him to talk so much -- he's a motor mouth already!  
Found this picture on my camera - it's a little old, probably November?  This was my big deal at a Mom 2 Mom sale:  a custom rocking chair for $10!  Since it was already painted "Alexander" the seller had to find the RIGHT buyer.  When the sale was over, she still hadn't, so I scored a HUGE deal.  

Mama:  Even though the first quarter is usually our slow period, work has been busy.  Thankfully my business is off to a strong start, so here's to hoping for a great year.  

On top of work, my mother and I purchased a little house here in our town for a rental house.  The bones of the house were great - it's a OLD house but was in really good shape.  After some face lift work, the renters moved in last week.  It looks great.   Here's a link to some before and after pictures.  

Now we're all in a major countdown to Spring Break.  Even though our winter hasn't been nearly as cold or snowy as usual, we're all ready for some warm weather.  In the meantime, Tati & Alex have been getting their energy out in their new "jump-o-lene".  Highly recommended!  
Too cool!  A HUGE hit!

Happy ALMOST Spring!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Open Response to "Stacee Smith"

A couple of weeks ago, when the latest round of RUMORS that Russia was going to close to US Adoptions came out - I commented about this situation in a blog post.  I received the following response in my comment section:  
Russia shutting diwn adoptions looks legit -- Duma hasn't done it yet, but at least one region in Russia has unilaterally imposed an indefinite ban in adoptions by US parents. This is a GOOD thing -- Russia taking steps to protect it's littlest and most vulnerable citizens!!

PAPs undergo spool much scrutiny -- a homestudy, refer reference letters, multiple background checks, etc -- and these marvelously screened folks stioll somehow manage to kill and abuse their kids adopted from Russia. Then the UAs govt charmingly 1) fails to report these incidents to the government of Russia, as promised and 2) said APs somehow get off with no or minimal jail time, eg mr harrisson who accidentally forgot he left beautiful 18 mos old chase harrison in his car ALL DAY in the summer and tge kid died a HORRIBLE agonizing death got off with NO JAIL TIME!!
This comment was left by "Stacee Smith" who has been commenting on various adoption blogs under a variety of different names:  Kaylee, Stacee etc.  Her fake names are not connected to any blog like a majority of the people who read my blog, nor do they provide an email address to respond to, so I have chosen to respond here.  I suspect that *I* became one of "Stacee's" targets because of a comment I left after her on another friend's blog where she was particularly vicious.  The comment he/she left on my blog is not nearly as rude and accusatory as the majority of her comments I have read.  "Her" IP address appears to be Canadian in origin, but I also think he or she is a former Russian citizen, perhaps with some remaining ill feelings for the United States.  I question why all the "fake" names -- my mother always taught me that if you are ashamed to put your name on it, then it probably shouldn't be said.  

Believe it or not, I actually agree that Russia taking steps to protect it's littlest and most vulnerable citizens is a good thing.  Of course it is!  Children are a beautiful treasure and steps should be taken to make sure they are safe.  But I don't see specific steps being suggested other than requiring a Russian person to visit each adoptive family as part of post placement check ups.  My door is open!  

And yes, adoptive families DO undergo scrutiny.  A LOT of it.  I've been fingerprinted by my local police department, the county sheriff, the state AND the federal government.  This is probably more than the average lifelong criminal.  I had a doctors examination here in the states to clear me for adoption and then had to endure 3 hours of doctors appointments, blood work and xrays in Russia to prove that I am fit.  INCLUDING being seen by a Russian psychiatrist.  And finally, YES -- even with all these tests and hoops, there have been a handful of cases of abuse.  I wish I could say every system is perfect, but with everything, there are exceptions.   

However, the VAST majority of us are good, even GREAT parents.  Most of us love our children more than life itself and can't imagine ANYTHING ever happening to them (as communicated in my very honest post about the 5 minutes where I thought I had lost my daughter).   The adoption of my daughter was slightly after the Chase Harrison case went to court.  I followed it as closely as I could and was heart broken with the details.  When asked in court about abuse and if I would ever hurt my child, I could barely get out my response to the judge between tears.  I don't know the Harrison's and so I'll reserve my judgement on what happened.  I cannot imagine forgetting my child in the car.  Adopted or not, these cases happen every year around the world.  

The Hanson case is a whole separate topic.  My second adoption WAS affected by this case.  I would have liked to return to Vladivostok for adoption #2, but after Torry Hanson, this wasn't an option since I am a single parent.  This case HORRIFIES me.  Outrages me.  Me and ALL the other adoptive parents that I know.  I wish I could say that every system of checks and balances was perfect - but let's face it, it's not.  And that's not OK for Artem/Justin.  But to judge an entire country of people and adoptive parents on a few small cases is not fair, nor is it right.  

Reports vary on statistics, but most quote that 62% of Russian children are adopted by foreigners, and 38% by Russian citizens.  The largest majority of these foreign adoptions are done by US families.  In 2011, the number of US adoptions from Russia was 962 - down as compared to previous years.  Similarly, statistics on the # of orphans in Russia vary as well.  The average shows over 630,000 children in the system, 250,000 of which are living in Russian orphanages.   Another report shows that each year 15,000 children are released from orphanages.  Of that #, 10 percent commit suicide, 30 percent commit crimes and 40 percent are unemployed and homeless.  This leaves only about 20 percent who are able to make it on their own.  I am NOT saying that an abusive US family is better than ending up homeless in Russia.   Again, these cases are the exception, NOT the norm.  

At the end of the day, this is about the children.  Abuse at the hands of ANY parent, Russian or American, should not be tolerated.   But I challenge you, "Stacee" or whatever your name really is, read any of the blogs along the side of my page.  What you'll find are children who are loved, cherished and cared for.  Aim  your hatred somewhere else.