Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Included

One of the things I worried about the most with Aeson was would he be included?  Would he be accepted?  We live in a small town and sometimes small towns come with small minds.  He sticks out in an environment that doesn't have a large population of special needs children.  And not only does he not speak English but the English he does speak comes with a Down Syndrome speech deficit.  That being said, our school district is a fully inclusive district meaning that a child with special needs attends as many classes with typically developing peers as they are emotionally and mentally able to handle.  Currently Aeson is in a life skills classroom most of the day (due to not speaking English) but attends mainstream PE, lunch and theater.  We had his first ARD meeting last week and, after discussing all his current academic achievements, I ventured to ask how he was doing socially.  I had no doubts that, in his own class, he would do well.  He is a very affectionate and social kid.  But how would he do with the other kids?  Junior high is an amazingly awkward age where conformity is key to survival.  And, again, Aeson sticks out.  He's also spent his entire life in an environment where everyone was "different" so he doesn't see himself as an oddity.  I was so happy to hear that kids called him by name and waved to him as he went down the hall.  I had a parent approach me last night at a church function to tell me that their daughter had come home and started learning Russian so she could speak to him and make him feel welcome.  And at a slumber party this past weekend, eight six and seven year old girls didn't hesitate to include Aeson in the pillow fights and staircase sledding.  They were curious to know why he "speaks funny" but after a brief explanation about coming from another country and learning to speak English they thought of him no differently than they do any other kid.  One of the girls told her mother when she came to pick her up that, "Aeson is fun to play with."

Insert smiley face here.

So well done, Bellville.  You are raising an amazing bunch of kiddos and I'm so lucky to have my kid among them.  


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Answered Prayers

Tomorrow will be one month since we pulled Aeson from the institution.  To say he has done well would be a massive understatement.  He is nothing short of amazing.

We will finish up all the baseline medical appointments this week.  So far Aeson has NONE of the medical conditions typically associated with Down Syndrome.  He has no: heart murmur, cervical (neck) instability, nearsightedness, thyroid issues, stenotic (narrow) ear canals or severely enlarged tonsils.  He also has no fine or gross motor deficits.  He holds his pencil correctly.  He cuts his food with a (butter) knife.  He ties his shoes, zips his jacket and buttons his pants.  He rides a bike.  He jumps on the trampoline.  He's been down a zipline.  He eats whatever we put in front of him.  He sleeps through the night.  He gets along with the girls.  His biggest issue was the dogs and now they are the first thing he looks for when he wakes up in the morning.  Everyone who has met him thus far is surprised at how happy and well-adjusted he is.  He greets everyone with a big smile and a huge hug.  We found out he does NOT like legos or Tonka-type trucks but loves Spiderman, remote-controlled cars, building things and animals.  

Aeson started school less than two weeks after coming home.  He was ready.  In keeping with tradition, he has done very well.  He attends a life skills class for now as we felt the language barrier would make mainstream classes too frustrating.  He attends PE and lunch with his typically developing peers.  Sixth graders are allowed one elective and we chose theater for him.  So he attends that class with typically developing kids as well.  Kid is wicked smart.  He has picked up a number of english words already and is working on number and letter recognition.  He can complete a 30 piece puzzle in minutes.  He has convinced his teachers that he gets "tired" after lunch so they let him play with the iPad instead of doing work.  We figured this one out today when Brent sat him down to work on writing letters.  He "fell asleep" and refused to participate.  Using google translate Brent told him that we'd go outside and ride his bike if he'd just do his work.  Two minutes later all 52 upper and lower case letters of the alphabet are written and he is outside.

I had someone ask me recently about adopting an older boy because they only had experience with younger children but were considering an older child.  I had to be honest that I felt like Aeson was the exception and not the rule.  I'm shocked that such an awesome kid went for so many years without a family.  I am still waiting for the bottom to drop out at some point because it truly can't be this easy...

I also found out yesterday that rumor has it, Aeson's institution is going to make all the other eligible children there available for adoption because of his adoption.

He's done so many great things already...I can't wait to see what's next!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Baby's First Christmas

Here is my long overdue update on Aeson's homecoming.  Sorry for the delay.  He came home right as the holidays hit and everything just sort of...exploded.  They got home on Thursday, just in time for Christmas.  (Thank goodness.  I'll be honest, I was starting to panic a little.)  The homecoming itself was a little anticlimactic.  Brent had free parking at the airport so we weren't there to see them walk off the plane.  They came home late in the evening after a bajillion hour flight so everyone was exhausted.  Aeson eyed everyone warily, ate dinner and went to bed.  I took some video but it's pretty boring.  And the cinematography is crap.  Very Blair Witch Project.

Aeson woke up Friday am and really hasn't looked back.  The only major problem we've encountered are the dogs.  While he likes the IDEA of them, up close and personal they scare the schnikes out of him.  In his defense, we had ten dogs at our house over the weekend.  Only three are mine.  He is warming up quickly though and he's made massive improvements in a very short period of time.  Today he was even walking the littlest one down the driveway on a leash.  He does tend to obsess over them, though, if he can see or hear them (can't even just put them outside because he can see them through the glass of the doors) and can't focus on anything else.  So my dogs have spent a lot of time in the garage.  They've been very good sports about it, probably because they've gotten double their usual amount of rawhides and walks to make up for the inconvenience.

Overall Aeson acts like he has always lived here.  He fits in seamlessly and gets along great with the girls.  He LOVES my uncle and was really disappointed when he left today even though he's only known the man for about 24 hours.  He eats everything we put in front of him.  He sleeps through the night.  And while I have zero expectations that it will continue to go this smoothly, I hope and pray that it does.

I'll leave you with a few snapshots of our weekend.  We had a great first Christmas as the seven of us and hope your Christmas was wonderful, as well.

That's right.  We were wearing shorts and playing in the water hose on Christmas.
It's currently like 75 degrees here in Texas.  

Making Christmas cookies.  

Reading a bedtime story.
  
Home.  =)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Thriving

I got this email this morning from Brent.  I'm not sure if he wrote it with the intention of me posting it but it reads just like a blog post so I just had to!

This morning has been interesting. Everyone woke up in a decent mood and we had a good breakfast.

Aeson (he responds to his name fairly well) made his bed and insisted on getting dressed before breakfast. He played in his room by himself today for an hour; that's a first. Caught him yesterday writing the letter A on his note pad. He has an imagination, no doubt. He uses one of the cars as a cell phone, calling God knows who. He also uses it as his key to his room.

Mostly writing his email to explain the picture included. He is watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates, usually in silence, but today he is trying to sing along. I was most surprised by him counting along with the coin count they do at the end of the episode.

Kid is going to thrive.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Delay Fish

Anybody else here a huge Finding Nemo fan?  I love that movie to bits and pieces and thus have nearly every line memorized.  I've decided this whole adoption thing reminds me in particular of this line between Marlin, Nemo's dad, and Dory as they are out searching for Nemo.

Marlin: "I can't afford any more delays and you're one of those fish that causes delays. Sometimes it's a good thing. There's a whole group of fish . They're delay fish."

WE are decidedly delay fish.  This process has been wrought with nothing but delay after stupid delay.  Homestudy?  Took 10 weeks instead of 10 days.  Delayed.  Submission?  Took two months instead of two weeks.  Delayed.  Last trip?  Sudden change in tax laws.  Delayed.  Coming home?  Yep, you guessed it...

DELAYED!!!

Brent told me this morning that, due to Scrooge McGrinchy Pants at the passport office, Aeson's passport, in addition to being misspelled, will not be ready until Tuesday.  Which means the final embassy appointment isn't until Wednesday.  They will try to fly out Thursday but odds of getting three plane tickets booked 12 hours prior to wanting to fly are slim.  This means most likely they will be flying out Friday - THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS WEEKEND WHEN EVERYONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET WILL ALSO BE TRAVELING!  So, hopefully there will be plane tickets to be had Friday; otherwise their trip home will again be - say it with me now - DELAYED!!!

I promise I really am trying to put on my big girl panties, say, it is what it is, and soldier on.  But I am so over all the stinking delays!  And I'm not even the one stuck in a tiny apartment with a broken tv in wintry Kiev!  I just want my family home, all together, on Christmas, which, at this point, may or may not happen.  Is that really too much to ask, Ukraine???

On the plus side (there's always a plus side), Aeson has done SO well.  He has slept through the night, gotten himself up and put himself back to bed, eaten everything put in front of him and had no major meltdowns.  He has a giant smile on his face in every photo and video Brent sends me.  What an amazingly resilient kid!  And no, the irony that I just had a virtual hissy fit from my own comfy chair in a familiar environment while my son, who was just ripped from everything he knows, acts like this is just another day did not escape my notice.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  And I'll keep posting incredibly cute pictures of this fantastic kid who makes all the delays worth it.




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gotcha Day, The Sequel

Today was a much more low key day though it ended up being no less stressful than the day before.  The two things on the agenda today were the first embassy and medical appointments.  They ran into traffic on their way to the first appointment of the day so after ALL that traveling and the late night and the stress of will he sleep through the night or wake up screaming every half hour, poor Brent and his mom had to start the day without any coffee.  I. would. have. DIED.  Or someone else would have.  It's a good thing Brent is a tougher man than me.  He managed to start the day with a smile.


The day continued in the way it started - filled with hurdles and an enormous lack of coffee.  We found out that Aeson's name got spelled wrong on his passport.  Not a big deal, we'll just fix it, right?  WRONG!  Turns out The Grinch is working the desk at the passport office these days.  The woman, for whatever reason (maybe her shoes were too tight???), staunchly refused to redo the application and spell his name right.  Our facilitator promises, in the long run, this isn't a big deal so we finally said screw it and Aeson is now officially "Aison".  At least for Ukrainian passport purposes.

(Aison...Aison...does that rhyme with bison or is it still pronounced A-son...?  BTW, it never occurred to either of us that Aeson's name sounds astonishingly like A-son.  A son for the Sanders.  Aeson.  We aren't that clever.  Someone had to point it out to us.)

The second hurdle of the day came at the doctor's office.  Aeson has apparently had several recent enough TB tests and one or more of them has come back positive.  Now he obviously does not have TB (you can test positive on the skin test without actually having the disease) but the doctor needs a chest x-ray before she can clear him.  And, yep, you guessed it, the x-ray machine is broken.  The doctor is hopeful it will be working before the second embassy appointment on Friday.  Let's hope because, without the medical clearance, Aeson cannot get his visa.  Without the visa, they can't fly home.

Grr.

Despite the aggravations of the day, Aeson appears to be adjusting well.  He slept through his first night out like a champ and, from what I've been told, went straight to bed tonight.  He hasn't had any major meltdowns and he's even starting to warm up to MeeMaw.  =)



They got to spend some time at an indoor playground today and finally have some fun.  After that it was time for dinner, a quick round of Legos and bed.


Aven drew this and a number of other things for Aeson, packed them in his suitcase and made Brent promise to give them to him once he picked him up.  This is Aeson posing for photographic evidence that Daddy did what he was told.  

 The girls and I are holding up well although we miss them and cannot wait for them to get home.  God made sure today that we knew we were being taken care of in their absence.  The staff at our amazing day care gave us these gifts today.


Every staff member wrote a short note inside one of the books and tonight the girls and I read both of the books from cover to cover.  We are so very blessed to have such a loving village ready to swoop
 in whenever we need them.  They love our girls and Aeson as if they were their own.

Not much on the books for tomorrow thus far unless the x-ray machine magically fixes itself overnight.  (If y'all could just go ahead and add that miracle to your bedtime prayers this evening, we'd really appreciate it.)  They are going to try and find something fun to do like maybe visit the aquarium.  Hopefully the breakdowns continue to limit themselves to medical equipment and everyone wakes up smiling again tomorrow.  And hopefully there's coffee.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gotcha Day

After 32 grueling hours of travel, Brent and his mom arrived in Aeson's region around midnight last night.  They spent a lovely, sleep-filled night at the Box Springs for a Mattress Motel and woke bright and early to go spring Aeson from the orphanage.  After a bucket full of coffee, one change of clothes and a handful of photo ops, they sprung him from that place forever!



Brent said the nannies cried as they were leaving which, oddly enough, made me feel good.  They loved him.  They cared for my son.  I hope that at least some of their tears were happy ones.  I hope they know that we will love and care for him, too.  Aeson shed a few tears, too, but recovered quickly.

The car ride back to town was exhausting!
After getting Aeson scanned for his passport, they had lunch at our favorite pizza place.  Maybe now the waitresses there will understand why we were there so often...


Once lunch was over it was back on that train.  Apparently it was a very long five hours.  Aeson had a minor meltdown upon boarding and wasn't interested in anything - iPad, the phone, toys - for more than a minute.  Food made it better (he is, after all, my son!)


 and Brent excitedly texted me when Aeson finally fell asleep...for 11 whole minutes.  =/

They finally made it back to Kiev and got settled in around midnight.  Aeson showered, brushed his teeth and readily got into bed without any issues.  I'm anxious to see how the night goes and how much sleep everyone actually gets.

Tomorrow should be a much slower paced day with just the embassy appointment in the morning and a doctor's appointment in the afternoon.  Everyone is stressed, tired and overwhelmed and could definitely use a restful day.  Please continue to keep all three of them in your prayers.

Here's hoping for a good second day!