That being said, there is A LOT of misconception about domestic adoptions.
For every healthy non-african american newborn placed for adoption in the US, there are 35 waiting adoptive families. For every healthy african american newborn placed for adoption in the US, there are 12 waiting adoptive families. There is not a huge NEED for families to adopt healthy babies domestically.
But what about babies and toddlers with Down Syndrome? Robin Steele runs a fantastic adoption ministry placing babies with Down Syndrome for adoption domestically. There are currently over 200 families on her wait list and she does an average of 26 placements a year. Why the great demand? Because a) children with Down Syndrome are a huge blessing and b) they are aborted at a rate of 90% in this country so very few ever are born, let alone come available for adoption. Again, the need is just not there for adoptive families.
What about other special needs? I actually run Special Angels Adoption in which we help agencies find adoptive families for special needs newborns and toddlers (www.specialangelsadoption.org) domestically. I LOVE this work. It is very rewarding. The demand is much lower for babies with significant special needs but so far (knock on wood) we have yet to have a situation where we could not find a family for a baby (as long as the fees were in the realm of reasonable). No matter what level of special needs, we have been able to find loving, qualified, wonderful families.
What about all the kids we hear about in the media languishing in the foster care system waiting to be adopted? I am sorry to say that much of what you have heard to propaganda. Seriously. Through my work with Special Angels Adoption, we have helped many, many couples adopt special needs little ones who were legally free through the foster care system. Unless the child has a trach, there is typically 50-100 families applying for every child under the age of 8 no matter what the special needs or race of the child (for some reason, children with trachs are very hard to place). Why do they wait on the photolistings so long? Because the process through the state is very slow. They are not waiting for lack of families but they are waiting for the process. The need is just not there, in fact, it is the highest level of competition. Now, for children over the age of 8, the story is much, much different. There are many, many teenagers who need loving homes. And they do deserve one no matter what. That being said, we do not feel qualified as a family to deal with the issues that are frequently present with older child adoptions. It takes a very special type of person and we are sooooo glad that there are wonderful families out there adopting older children from the foster care system. It is just not our calling.
So why all the propaganda to adopt from the foster care system? Well, first of all, they need foster parents. The vast majority of children who enter the foster care system never come available for adoption because they are reunited with their families. That is the goal of the foster care system, when they are safely able to bring families back together they do so. Thus foster families are needed much more then adoptive families. Also, there are many, many older children waiting to be adopted through the foster care system. Especially if you are able to handle teenagers, the need is high.
Contrast all of this with the region our girls are being adopted from. In the last 4 years, there has only been one child with Down Syndrome adopted from there per year. Only one! Despite the fact that there are SEVERAL waiting. This year, there will be 3 children with Down Syndrome (ours and one other), setting a huge record. Our daughter has been in the orphanage waiting for a family for 5 YEARS. No one has come forward, until now. If they stay, they will end up in mental asylums, never to have a normal life in society. In fact, they have been totally rejected by their society because of their special need. There is literally no place for them. In this region of the world nearly 100% of children with Down Syndrome reside in orphanages. The NEED is HUGE. I have been to dozens of orphanages around the world, both good and bad, and I can honestly say that an orphanage is no place for any child to grow up.
Even a child in the foster care family, though FAR from ideal, lives in a home within the community. They are allowed to attend school, get proper medical care, live with a family, etc. I am not saying these kids don't need permanent families, THEY DO! But compared to our daughters' fate if not adopted, they have several advantages.
Again, I am not saying that one type of adoption is better then another. You should go where the Lord calls you because He knows where YOUR child is. That is why we are going where we are going. But be careful not to be judgemental of those adopting international vs domestically. Your perception may be based upon emotional misinformation instead of the facts.
Our insurance is like most in that it has a max family out of pocket dollar amount. In other words, once you have paid a certain amount in medical bills, everything is free after that. Since we brought our first two children home in 2000 we have met the max out of pocket by March every year. So adding more special needs kiddos has not added to our medical bills. We just budget our max out of pocket every year and so it is expected and not a shock to the system.
For perscriptions, we have found a great mail order pharmacy that does not charge us any copays. They just take what our insurance pays. This helps with medications that are regular and expected. We still have to go to a regular pharmacy for unexpected illnesses and that can get pricey if everyone gets strep throat at once!
For things not covered by insurance, like our handicap accessible van, ramps, toilet chairs, bath chairs, elevator, lifts, specialized swings, bikes and seats, we buy most of our stuff used. Families who get medicaid (we don't) get all these things paid for usually so they are willing to sell them for way cheap if not give them away once their kiddos no longer need it. For example, Clarissa needed a toilet/shower chair and our insurance would not cover it. New they are $3,000. I bought hers used for $125 and it had only been used for 6 months and was like new. www.ksl.com, www.ebay.com and www.craigslist.com are all great places to find used equipment for special needs kiddos.
Keep the questions coming! They are fun to answer and give me something to blog about while we wait and wait and wait and wait and wait. ;)
* I take a 30 minute bath in my big sunken tub EVERY morning. It is my time to unwind, think about my day, pray, do nothing.
* I go on a date every week with my hubby. Aahh . . . sweet escape!
* I go to church. Nothing like going to church to recharge and gain a little eternal perspective.
* I run an adoption ministry. I LOVE helping special needs little ones find their forever adoptive families: www.specialangelsadoption.org
* I talk on the phone or go out with my girlfriends when our schedules will allow. If you can find people who get you and love you for exactly who you are, it is priceless.
* About every 6 months I hire a cleaning crew to come in and get my whole house spotless at once (if only for a moment).
What you do for you? What recharges your batteries?
This might make you uncomfortable, but PLEASE, PLEASE read it. This is what I have dedicated my life to:
Please pray! We have run up against some adoption problems. They will lead to delays but we are not stopping. Just every day that goes by without the girls is HARD. Please pray with us for quick resolution.
Because they are our girls. We have never adopted a child that we did not feel a VERY STRONG knowledge that they were meant to come to our family. Although we have adopted siblings before, we have never adopted 2 unrelated children at the same time. But I guess they are related, they are siblings, because they are meant to be sisters. It is just legal paperwork that says they are not right now. But God knows. And I am certainly not going to leave one behind for later!
What I am amazed to discover is that we are not alone. Many, many families have been called to adopt more then one unrelated children with significant special needs at the same time. Here are some blogs of other families adopting more then one at a time through Reeces Rainbow. The need is just so high that God is sending them two by two, or by threes or even fours!
So I went to go check out West Coast Jewelry's website and oh my gosh, love! There is so much cute stuff! This bracelet in particular has me drooling:
1) Many hands make for light work. We have 8 abled bodied helpers in our house and that means that a lot can get done (or undone) very quickly. One of my favorite things to do is a few times throughout the day, I will say, "Everyone pick up 10 things bigger then your thumb and put them away. Mark, set, go!" In a matter of a couple of minutes we have put away 80 things! Do you know how long that would take me on my own?! Sometimes I mix it up to make it more fun like, "Everyone find 5 things that have the letter E in its name and put them away." Or "Everyone find 8 things with blue on it and put it away." Or "Boys are going to do the living room, girls are going to do the dining room, lets race to see who finishes first."
2) Everyone has chores. Everyone has 2 rooms in addition to their bedrooms that they are in charge of cleaning once a day.
3) I shop clearance. I have set rules I have made up for myself when it comes to shopping. They are my dollar lines in the sand. When things get down below my dollar line, I buy LOTS. For example, I will not buy canned vegies or fruit for more then 55 cents a can. Eventually the price always drops down to that level and then I buy a couple of cases of each kind. Then we have enough until the price drops again. Same goes for kids shoes and clothes, I will not buy unless they drop below my dollar line. I am usually buying when the season is over and storing for next year. This especially works for buying sports equipment for next year. I also buy future sizes and store them, for example shoes (you know they will eventually be every size). Here are some of my dollar lines:
Canned Vegies and Fruit: 55 cents
Canned Soup: 50 cents
Meat (I buy very, very little meat): 1.99 lb (less if it has bones)
Cereal: $1.99 box (no sugar kinds)
Canned Beans: 50 cents
Pasta: $1.00 a large bag
Frozen juices: 50 cents
Kids Shirts: $3.50
Kids Shoes: $8.00 (only nice brands, cheap brands don't last)
Kids Jeans: $6.00
Kids Coats: $9.00
Kids Snow Boots: $10.00
Kids Winter Gloves: $3.00
As for Mom? I buy all my clothes at thrift stores. It is so fun to find a great find!
4) Divide and conquer. Kevin and I have come to realize that it is just too stressful for both of us (and thus the whole family) to attend every sport, event, meeting, etc. So we take turns going to the kids various activities. It is also great because after, lets say a soccer match, we can take that child out for ice cream or something and they can get some valuable one on one time. Since many of our kids activities also often conflict (ie they are held at the same time) it allows us to do two at once.
5) Don't sweat the small stuff. My house is clean, it is not a museum by any means. And it is not all clean at the same time. That is just impossible. We have learned that a little bit of mess is not something to stress about. Spending time as a family is much more important then living in a perfectly put together home.
6) Hand-me-downs. We pass clothes, toys, etc down the line from oldest to youngest. Well, at least we used to. Now, my 4 oldest are the exact same size and my 3 middle are the exact same size. They have really thrown off my entire system!
7) Our piano teacher comes to our home. Instead of carting all the kids off to piano, she comes to us. In 2 1/2 hours she has all 5 kids in lessons done and I have not had to leave or figure out what to do with the little ones.
8) We have chosen pediatritions, dentists, opthamologists and therapists that will take us all at once, assembly line style. That way, I only have to do the dentist twice a year (no more then a "regular" mom).
9) Date night! This is how we keep our marriage sane. We go on a date night every week. We are still madly in love but it hard to get in a word edge wise with so many little ones wanting your attention.
10) LARGE home (9 bedrooms), LARGE van (seats 13 plus the wheelchair), LARGE travel trailer (sleeps 10, more if we put kiddos on the floor), 2 LARGE washers and dryers (they are quads so I can do 8 loads at once), LARGE table (it is square seating 4 on each side allowing space for up to 16). Our moto is go large or go home!!
11) If it is not on the calendar it does not exist. We have a family calendar where EVERYONE'S (including the husbands) activities are written down. If it doesn't get written down, then no guarentees that you will be able to do it because our family takes daily careful planning.
12) Family Night. Every Monday night EVERYONE is required to be home. We have family devotional, play games, have a treat, do service or go on a special outing as an entire family.
13) Family meals. Dinners are required attendance. We sit down as a family once a day and share our stories, worries, dreams and food.
14) I buy some things wholesale. Because we have a large group, I can buy many things in wholesale bulk. For example, underwear, socks, towels, dish cloths, paper plates, napkins, easter dresses, etc.
15) The environmentalists are going to hate me for this but my mission is to save orphans, not trees. We use only paper products. Paper plates, cups, napkins, etc. That way, we only wash pans.
Keep the questions coming! It is fun to answer them!
Sure we have signed a lot of things, sure we have gathered tons of paperwork, sure we have had to bug friends and relatives, doctors, realtors, employers etc for recommendations. Sure we have had background checks and child abuse screenings. But none of this so far has been seen by the foreign government. There are several steps to get it all there. Several approvals that must be had. And so our family stays seperated.
And we are only a month into the 6-12 month process!! How am I possibly going to stay sane?