Saturday, September 20, 2008

2 Years Ago......

This story actually begins 3 years ago.......
In the fall of 2005 I was FINALLY feeling like I had a handle on everything. Lindsi was making real, solid progress on her hearing & speaking skills. I had bought a house earlier in the spring & we were settled in pretty well. Thoughts slowly started to turn towards a second child. When I was in China adopting Lindsi, I knew I wanted to do it again. NO DOUBT.

For a lot of reasons I wanted my second child to be a Waiting Child. Let me say that I WAS on a Waiting list for a NSN (Non Special Needs) Singles spot, but my name had come up to the top 3 times & I had never felt ready. When I DID feel ready, I wanted a Waiting Child instead.

So, I did what any prospective parent might do, I started to REALLY LOOK at different agency Waiting Child lists. It's so different now, but in that time, you could get pretty good access to lists of Waiting Children & see if one just "spoke" to you.

In early Oct, I went on IAAP list. There was a little girl on that list who I immediately was drawn to. She was from Lindsi's SWI & she had a minor need of burn scars on her arm. She was turning 2 in Nov, which put her 18 months younger than Lindsi. One of my top criteria was at least 2 yrs younger than Lindsi...but I was drawn to her. She was on the first list I looked at, near the top at that....people don't decide to look at WC, then fall in love with the first they??? Could I really let the age difference part go? I had solid reasons of why I wanted my children further apart in age. I looked at her & thought about it....looked at her & thought about it.....2 days later "I HAVE A FAMILY" was posted by her name. Oh no!!!! I hadn't been quite ready & I lost her.

So, I continued to look at other agencies lists. In Nov, I found a little cherub on AHH list. Right age for me, missing a forearm. Her pictures were beautiful. Another family had her file, but if they passed, I would be able to review it. Wow! They passed on her. I took the file to "my" medical team, my ER nurse mom & ped nurse SIL. They spotted irregular test scores in her file & strongly advised that I pass on her file too. There was more going on with this baby than just a missing forearm. So, I did pass, but I was happy to see that the next family that reviewed her file, accepted her.

So, for the next 6 weeks, I perused various lists, waited for new lists to come out, & checked back often with IAAP on my first little girl. I even called them a few times to make sure they knew if that family dropped out for some reason, I wanted a chance at her. Finally, Cheryl at IAAP told me that the family was solid & moving forward & we chatted about my background with Lindsi & what type of child I was looking to adopt.

In mid Dec, Cheryl called me one day. She said...I have a new list & I think I see someone you'll be very interested you want to see her file? It was a Thu & I said Sure! Send it over. She told me I would have 4 days to review the file, so on Mon she would need a yes or no. If it was a no, then Mon she would post the file on their public list, but until then, it was my file to have.

Well, that child was EXACTLY everything I had told Cheryl I wanted. How could I say No? The only thing that gave me momentary pause was the question of IF I was really ready......IF I was going to do it, I should do it now. I finally decided she wasn't coming home on the time I did dossier & went through the process I WOULD be ready, so on Mon I called Cheryl. When she aswered the phone she said...You better be saying YES! And I is a YES!

So that's how I started on my road to Jami, Rao Hong Yu

This picture was taken at her SWI, just as I was DTC. She is 14 months here.

Fast forward to Sept 06...I left Lindsi behind with my dad & my mom & I set out for China. I had been there before & we really had only one other family that we were meeting up with in China. In & Out, no stopping in Beijing for tourist activities this time. Orlando to Detroit...Check. Detroit to Tokyo....check....5 hrs in the air...uncheck. The plane developed a mechanical problem somewhere over Alaska & they decide to fly the 5 hrs back to Detroit. Then, because we were going to (possibly) land with no hydraulics, we circled Detroit for an hr or so dropping fuel. The flight team drilled us on our crash landing positions, we could see the red lighted fire trucks standing by on the tarmac, awaiting our arrival...wonderful.
We landed OK, the airline kept our luggage, gave us little overnight kits, bussed us to a local hotel & told us to meet back at the gate at noon.

A call to the agency (at midnight, no less) to let them know we were delayed. Two days later we FINALLY made it to Nanchang. I missed my gotcha day, can you believe it?? Our room wasn't quite ready, but we met up with friends in the lobby who had all been wondering where we had been. Ten minutes after we hit the room, our guide called & said..Ok ready to go get baby??

We got to the Civil Affairs office (different than where I had been in 2003 to get Lindsi), & they soon brought Jami in. Oh....I would have recognized her in a group of babies (unlike with Lindsi when I could not pick her out of 7 babies AT ALL).
And Jami screamed.....and screamed.....and screamed...for about 3 days. The only times she did not cry was when my mom held her.

Meeting Jami..........& a few days later.....

So, I was patient, bided my time, slowly did more & more for her. On the first day, her nanny sort of hid from her after the handover, but was watching from around the corner. On the second day, as we were leaving Civil Affairs, the SWI grp rode down in the elevator with us, although Jami's nanny had tried to be very in the shadows. She obviously loved Jami & if she wanted to hold her once more, I was OK with that. She settled for just holding her hand. As we climbed into the van to leave, I handed Jami to my mom & glanced down the street behind me where the nanny & swi director had walked & the nanny was sobbing in the arms of the SWI director. I felt horrible. Despite what some people know & believe about various SWIs, I always knew that Jami was well cared for & loved in her SWI. Happily, I have the SWI e mail address & I send them pictures often. Every 3 or 4 times that I send an e mail, I get a note back from them, saying how happy they are to see how she has grown.

Being a SWI nanny has got to be such a hard job....watching children that you love & care for, go away forever. Watching children that you love & care for never get a chance at a family. So hard.

Life with Jami is an adventure. It started that way & very little has changed. She adores her family, she likes to be outside & active. Anything her big sister can do, she tries. She can be shy. She can be demanding & stubborn. Mostly, she is our lovely little caboose, she completes US.

Jami 3....

We love you!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Late Night Haircut

Do you know what this is?....I'll give you 3 Guesses.....

I've always tried to teach my girls since they were very, very young, that scissors are for cutting paper..not for cutting hair. And, a lot of times when we have our scissors out, I remind my girls of that fact. But, the Gods of the universe decided that I could not possibly raise two such girly girls without experiencing THE HAIRCUT at least once. Here is our story......

Last night at about 10:30 (WHERE is that Super Nanny when you need her???) the girls came sneaking out of their rooms, into the living room where I was sitting....What are you doing out of bed? I asked.....then, Wait! Jami, is your hair different..? OMG!! Did you guys CUT! her hair?....And the answer was a quick dash back into their rooms.

I waited a few minutes, wondering if I REALLY wanted a closer look. I decided that I would rather live in denial, but I knew the scissors were still in the room & I had to get those. So, while I was deciding what to do next, Jami crept back into the living room. I called her over for a closer look. Hmmmmm....actually looks quite professional (for a 6 yr old!!!), not your average hack job. Not exactly even....definitely the work of the older sister.

The Evidence...front & back

Me: what happened to your hair?
Jami: I cut it....... Just a little bit
Me: What little bit? She points to a now absent lock in the front.
Me: What about the rest of it?
Jami: I don't know....
Me: Are you sure you don't know?
Jami: Lindsi did it.

I sent her back to bed. I walked into Lindsi's room. Before I even say one word...Lindsi is saying "I not do it....I not do it"....such a little truth avoider.

Try again Lindsi......& by the way, hand over the scissors.......& where is the hair....

She scoots out of bed, reaches under her bed & sheepishly hands over the scissors & Jami's hair, which she has already bagged up for me to keep. Such a conscientious hair dresser. I will admit that was a typically sweet Lindsi gesture, bagging up the hair for me to keep.

I'd like to think that Jami, being my more adventurous child, cut her hair. Then went into Lindsi to show her. Lindsi either tried to "fix" it or maybe got caught up in the game of cutting hair, I'm not sure.

I'm trying to look on the bright will grow back, right? Sure, the daughter who has the very thick, luxurious locks that grows 1/2 every few weeks..she still has hair. The daughter with the thin, silky fine hair that only grows about an inch a year.....well, let's just say we are probably a year from being able to do pony tails again.

At least they aren't flower girls in a wedding tomorrow like my friend, Sandra's daughters are......

At least they didn't hack it off all the way to the scalp. I think it is actually salvageable....

The salvaged hairdo....I did it myself because I just knew that anyone who wanted to really FIX it, would just cut it even shorter. I'd rather have a razored uneven look, than it shorter.

Although, I must admit, there is a little tear in my eye because I would have never ever cut it that short on my own....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Beach Weekend of the Year

With Grandma.....

We spent last weekend at the beach. It will probably be our last beach weekend for the year. The girls LOVE the beach....building sand castles & hanging out at the pool all day.

J took this weekend as an opportunity to finally shed her floaties (she had taken swim lessons for 2 weeks in July). She was jumping in, swimming to me, turning around & swimming back to the side. With every jump, her confidence grew. Almost to the point of cockiness, as she asked me towards the end of the afternoon if I wanted to "race" her the width of the pool!! L has really become a good swimmer this summer & we regularly "race"....J just wants to be included.

Update on 1st grade......after some really ugly scoring papers came home last week, I decided that I needed to have a teacher conference. So, I called on Mon, talked to her teacher. She said that she too was concerned about last week's papers, but between her & the interpreter they told L that she needs to SPEAK UP when she doesn't understand the instructions. Almost the same worksheets that she did very poorly on last week, she got 100s on yesterday. So, the teacher feels that we've corrected that issue for now. I hope so.......still monitoring the situation....

Friday, September 5, 2008

1ST Grade Transitions

Communication....such an essential word...such an essential tool. I read one time that being blind means that you miss a connection with objects and being deaf means that you miss a connection with people.

My oldest daughter is deaf. She has a cochlear implant, which gives her access to sound. She in fact, does very well with her implant, but she is still deaf. Her implant does not fix or correct her deafness (like glasses to a near or far sighted person), it aides her.

This year she is in first grade. She is mainstreamed into a regular 1st grade classroom. She was mainstreamed last year, and her teacher had taught deaf and hard of hearing children before, it was a good year. Totally different this year. We haven't had a full week of school yet (TS Fay, then Labor week is a teacher work day & who knows what Hurricane IKE will do to us), so it has been a little bit of an unusual start.

Her teacher is nice & experienced, but hasn't taught a hearing impaired child before. I expect she has some habits not exactly conducive to the environment my daughter needs (talking towards the board, giving directions over loud background noise). So, we use an interpreter & everyone is still in an adjustment period.

It has been a rough start though. Tears nearly everyday. I can't seem to get at the exact problem, no matter which way I try to COMMUNICATE with my daughter. I suspect it is a host of things.....a teacher who is more down to business & faster paced than she's used to, a separation from her best (also CI user) friend, new kids to meet, being different.

Yesterday, it was coming to a point where I was considering talking with her teacher. My sister gave me some new ideas to try. Wouldn't you know it, that day, my daughter brought home the weekly class room notes and it addressed transition issues. Apparently, we are not the only ones dealing with transition. And, for the first time, yesterday, she was in a good mood when she got off the tears.

I still think the situation warrants watching. Next week I will surprise her at lunch. I know it will make her happy & I want to see her interaction with her classmates.