Epic Update

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I’m sooooo sorry. So many time I’ve wanted to sit down and update this but it just didn’t happen. And tonight this won’t happen in one go either, there will be at least a half-dozen interruptions but I am not stopping now.

On Gabriel’s adoption:

Where we are now: our entire dossier is sitting in Bulgaria somewhere in the translation/authentication phase. I am awaiting word sometime in the next week or two (hopefully) that it has been submitted to the Bulgarian ministry of justice.

But if you think it was that easy? Nooooo. Never.

When last I wrote I we had just been fingerprinted and were awaiting word on approval. We didn’t get it. What we got instead was a “Request for Evidence” letter. AKA dreaded pink-slip (it is printed on pepto-bismol pink paper). What had gone wrong? Somewhere in my homestudy, USCIS was unhappy with the wording/paragraph structure of my approval to adopt Gabriel. When you read the paragraph it is obvious that I was approved, but USCIS wanted it worded a very specific way. So my homestudy agency had to type up a 2-page addendum, which needed to be notarized, which needed to have the notarized oversight letter from the placing agency attached to it sent to them. Meanwhile, in the hopes to save some time for the Bulgarian translators we went ahead and sent everything that we already had. Then we waited. Finally, on March 20 the long-awaited approval from USCIS arrived. On a Friday (naturally). So on Monday the 23rd I had the approval copy notarized then brought the addendum and the approval to apostilled then rushed over to the post office and FINALLY our dossier was submitted.

What’s next? We wait for Gabriel’s official referral. If you look back in this blog into the archives starting in November 2013 you will see a post mentioning Jude’s referral at IAC meeting #261. We are waiting for Gabriel submission/IAC meeting. We are told as soon as we are submitted we should be referred at the very next IAC meeting, which have been occuring pretty regularly. We hope that this meeting happens by the end of this month and that we will be able to travel to meet Gabriel by the end of May.

It is a very different process this time around. We know quite a bit about Gabriel. We know where she is/where in Bulgaria we will be going. We know that her orphanage is quite a good one, but we are still so desperate to see her, meet her, and get the process moving quickly so we can get her home quickly. We know now, personally, how important early permanency can be.

On Jude:

Where we are now: Jude is in bed. Not sleeping. Playing with a sticker.

Things have been rough, but I think we are getting there. When we left off Jude had been having seizures. Jude continues with seizures. This is life now. We have had 2 EEGs (one sleep deprived, one 24 hour ambulatory). What did we learn? Not much medically that we didn’t already know. I learned that I can no longer cope on 2.5 hours sleep in a 30 hour period. Jude now FULLY comprehends what “don’t touch it” means.

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Jude now has a medication to ward off severe seizures. We press on with life.

Except…

The neurologist took note of a bunch of things not observed back late last summer. Most of it was sort of changing Jude’s diagnoses around a bit. Some were warning us what to look out for when she grows up. And it helped kick what we needed for services into gear. A tough day, for everyone (Thank goodness Grandma was with us and there is such a thing as White Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes). But it has led to some very positive changes.

I am no longer managing Jude’s needs from a nursing caseworker AND mommy standpoint. Jude needs a mommy. She now has a social caseworker to take some of the tedious crap away. I still handle the pure nursing aspect, because having 2 RNs would be weird but having the help of a medical-model LCSW has been wonderful! It has given us more time together and me less time on the phone/doing paperwork and chasing down random things (which is my job description at work, but when I am home…I wanna be with Jude)

After a very intense month of evaluations and equally intense IEP meeting last week Jude will be getting Speech therapy 4 times weekly, and Physical therapy (still working on how often). She also has a pending appointment with pediatric orthopedics, and we are looking into a play therapist.

Despite the fact that Jude is developmentally and socially delayed; academically Jude is unquestionably on-target and quite possibly advanced for age. This is definitely perplexing for us and it can be frustrating for her. For example: Jude may not be able to speak well at all but for those that understand her she recognizes and can recite all letters of the alphabet. Can count to 7 (scratch that: 9), knows all her colors and all basic shapes with some complex shapes. Within the past week in addition to her usual drawing and painting skills she is working hard (at her own direction) at trying to write some letters and is succeeding with the letters W and X (so far). We have also noted that she has started informing us of phonics (example: “U makes the ou sound”). She can also name all the parts of her body (again one has to be familiar with her speaking pattern to understand). She loves to sing, but is is never recognizable, unless you know what it is she was trying to attempt (ie “twinkle, twinkle” “baa baa black sheep” “abc”). For this reason Jude will start Pre-K via homeschooling in September and may very well be ready for Kindergarten studies next year; but she still needs to seek out social skills with her toddler-aged friends as concepts like sharing and taking turns are still new and oftentimes difficult.

We had Jude’s second postplacement visit. Yes. That happened. Where has the time gone? Bulgaria requires 4 visits each 6 months apart, so we are halfway through this process now with Jude. I have an awesome adoption social worker and homestudy agency. I know I have said this several times before, but they are just sooooo wonderful. My poor cat still has PTSD from the days when I had foster children and used to have DHHS social workers over (sometimes little girls left and never came back) so he meows and cries the WHOLE time our social worker is over and never lets Jude out of his sight. Our social worker even takes the time to try and put the cat at ease.

I have been working on discipline with Jude. We tested the waters with the adoption version of “time-ins.” Excuse my language but Fuck, No. I hope somewhere that this concept works for somebody. Whoever came up with it did not see anything close to what went down in this house when we tried it (I nearly ended up in the ER on more than one occasion). The old “Happiest Toddler on the Block” time-ins are better, but minimally so and only work when she is already behaving. And ignoring? Forget it, it becomes a battle of wills. I tested the waters with time-out. Better. But not much can be done when Jude simply won’t sit still at anything. Ever. That is until I saw an old clip of Bob Ross painting. You know, the “Happy little trees” guy? Yeah, that stuff is mezmerizing for some unknown reason. Enter the creation of the “Bob Ross timeout”

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A timeout in which Jude watches a youTube clip of Bob Ross painting something (3-5 minutes).

She will go from toddler rage ball to zen master inside of 10 seconds. She will sit until the end of the clip without me nagging, and oftentimes elects to watch more than one clip. Leaves time-out calm and happy. This is the definition of a Win-Win situation. I share this in case it happens to work for another parent. Because seriously, nothing has ever been so magical in this house. Sometimes even I have a “Bob Ross timeout” too.

I learned a lot about hair care in regards to adhesive over the past month that is worth sharing. All-natural peanut butter applied generously to adhesive (even medical electrode adhesive) and left on for 15-20 minutes does a great job of breaking it up. The EEG lab attempted in advance to use baby oil. This presented us with additional problems: the best “shampoo” is to create the following: a half and half mixture of liquid castile soap and water, rub into the hair, sprinkle in baking soda sparingly and continue to lather (used various commerical shampoos and this really did work the best). After rinsing soap, rinse hair with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup warm water. After 2 days (uses) of using this shampoo/rinse Jude’s hair had returned to normal.

After the second EEG I promised Jude if she “didn’t touch it” that I would buy her any toy at WalMart that she wanted. Yes, any toy. No limits. I knew going in that this would be a scary proposition. But as this was the second EEG that she had made it through and this one had required her not to interfere with tens of thousands of dollars of medical equipment strapped to her head and back for over a day I felt that it was warranted. So after bringing her to WalMart at 6:00 on a Thursday night, she spent 45 careful minutes looking at and checking out every toy in the toy section. And we walked away with this (in her opinion the best toys at WalMart):

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My kid is awesome!

I decided to do the Easter bunny thing. I got 80+ colored plastic eggs and filled them with various treasures for Jude and placed them around the house. Yeah, she knew EXACTLY what to do. Unlike birthdays and Christmas we didn’t have to teach her to open presents. She got right up out of bed and within 20 seconds had an armful of plastic eggs. She actually had a blast, and was rather disappointed Monday morning when the Easter bunny didn’t come back.

Now that we are at this stage in Jude’s adoption I have been getting the question on how I think Jude is doing here, attachment-wise. Jude is fully attached. Like she was born to me. You cannot tell the difference between my daughter’s attachment to me vs. my nephew’s attachment to my sister. Likewise me to her. We function as a family unit. I do remember being worried about this even after meeting her. But it happened. I cannot pinpoint one thing or one process or one book that worked, it was definitely some (but not all) of everything. I also think that trusting that it was OK to stop doing something that wasn’t working was key as well. To relax and realize that I am not a pinterest, helicopter, girl-scout troop leader super-mom and that there are days where I am overjoyed that I got 2 socks on her and I really don’t care if they match or not (that’s a fashion thing, right?).

Jude’s happy. I’m happy. Here’s hoping that someday soon Gabriel will be with us and happy too.

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