Our first weekend together

Our first weekend as a family was a pretty good one. We are starting to get in to a rhythm now and the post placement behavioral honeymoon seems to still be in effect.

Friday was our civil anniversary so once Anthony got home from work, we all headed out to the Old Spaghetti Factory for our anniversary dinner. (Jayme is not quite ready for a fancy dinner yet.) We had a great dinner, Jayme did had some issues with waiting. He didn’t understand why we had to wait for our food, why it was not served to him at once.

So the first half of the meal was, “Where is my food?” He also did not seem to understand why he had to wait for everyone to finish eating before the ice cream came. Second half of the meal was all about reminding us that he wanted ice cream for desert and then prompting everyone to eat faster so he could get his ice cream. Joshua has started to mildly enforce table manors.  Jayme has a long way to go, but every day is getting a bit better.

Saturday was a big day for us. We took Jayme to the Mall to go shopping for some new clothes. We Jayme moved in he only had 3 pairs of socks, so Joshua and Sam did a emergency trip without Jayme to Target to get him some socks. What they came back with should have fit, but where kindof a bit  big for him. So not only did we need to get a new wardrobe we really needed socks that fit.

First stop was Macy’s for the sale. We found that size 4T fit, but the neck holes are too tight for him, so we got several cool shirts in size 5T. 4T pants are great on length but slip right off him, so we got him a cool belt. All in all we got about 8 new shirts, two pairs of shorts, NEW SOCKS, a belt and once pair of cool cargo pants.

We also had our first post placement interaction with outside people on this trip, well… people who opening commented and asked questions. We had a older sales lady who tried to help us and even followed us into the changing room. While checking out she asked in a kinda prying tone if all these new clothes where for his birthday or…..

Joshua was very blunt (no shock there 🙂 ) and told her we had just adopted Jayme. She wasn’t judgmental or anything. But it was kinda weird having someone ask about our family.

Jayme did really well with his shopping trip so we stopped at Jamba Juice for a snack and then stopped by Barnes and Noble for a new book. The children’s section proved to be too much for him and we had some pouting. So we quickly headed out.

Sunday, we took Jayme to the park and have a good time getting muddy and playing and running around the park. After lunch Jayme and Anthony looked at kid haircut photos and tried to find one that Jayme might like. As we looked Jayme describe a Mohawk….  so Anthony smartly typed in Faux hawk and even then Jayme wanted the most pointy and extreme version. Well after both dads told him that he needed a kid hairdo not an adult one, we had a meltdown. Full fake tears and screaming. After a quick 10 count head down and a small conversation about kid things and adult things he was able to sit back down and look at some kid appropriate haircuts. After a few minutes he found one he liked. We then talked to Jayme about what would happen at the salon. Joshua got down his clippers and put the blank guard on and let Jayme hear what they sound like and would feel like on his head. It took a few minutes for him to be ok with the sounds and he told us he wanted to get his haircut now. So Anthony and Jayme jumped in the car and headed to Supercuts.

We had been told that the reason Jayme’s hair was so long and oddly shaped was because of his sensory issues and his refusal to sit long enough for a full haircut. We had been told that going to a salon would out of the question for him as he would become way to distracted. Well, all of that might still be true, but today he was amazing. No crying or fidgeting. he even was ok with the clippers. He did an amazing job and when his hair cut was over he looked like a totally new kid!

When we got back home Joshua had a surprise for Jayme. After several days of unsuccessfully trying to play child appropriate Playstation 3 games that were just to advanced for him. Joshua bought Jayme a Wii…..

Ok I know what you are all going to say, we are spoiling this child. But if you could just see his face each time his little world gets a bit better, a bit more normal, you would too.

“And the evening and the morning were the first day”

First big announcement: This is no longer our adoption blog, it is now our official family blog!

Yesterday Jayme officially moved in and it was one of the happiest days in our lives.
Joshua had taken the day off to ensure that everything was prepared and Anthony headed into work for the morning. At 12:30pm Joshua picked Anthony up and we drove out towards Jayme’s school. Josh though the pickup was at 1:00pm but it was really at 1:30pm so we had time for lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. After a great lunch we headed over to Jayme’s school where we were to met him for the hand off.  We got there about 10 minutes early so we waited in the office.

About 20 minutes later (running on Jayme time) he arrived with his therapist and his caseworker. All five us met in the hallway and Jayme stated he wanted to get into our car now and go to his new home right away. So the three of us piled in the car and the others followed with all of his stuff.

We parked outside and entered the house together through the front door. He very quickly started exploring until he found his room. At which point he started his own inventory of his room.

A few minutes later his Caseworker and Therapist arrived with his stuff and Anthony headed out to help them bring it all in. Some of this stuff had been stored in the foster parent’s garage and needed inspecting as some of it had a small hint of mold on them. He hadn’t been there long enough for them to unpack him completely.

After a short tour of the house, Jayme told his caseworker and therapist that they should leave now. So they did, pretty quickly. This came as a bit of a shock to us as  we had expected them to want to watch and supervise for a while.

As Jayme played with his new toys, Joshua and Anthony unpacked all of Jayme’s stuff.
We decided to wash and inventory his clothing first. Most of his clothing was dirty (well kid dirty) and for some reason he only had 3 pairs of very dirty socks.
So as the clothing washed, Sam and Joshua did a quick trip to Target and picked up some new underwear and socks! A much bigger clothing shopping trip will happen this weekend for sure.

We had pizza for dinner, as this was part of the plan we had made with Jayme the day before.
Dinner with Jayme was short, he quickly inhaled 2 small slices and announced he was all done and wanted to play upstairs with his toys. About 5 minutes later he came back as he remembered we were going to have cookies for dessert.
Then about 30 minutes later he was hungry again, which came as a shock to no one but him.

We then watched an episode of Chuggington (Jayme LOVES trains) then headed upstairs for bath time.
Anthony started the bathtub and soon we had a naked little boy running round getting very excited about taking a bubble bath.

Bedtime was a bit of struggle for Jayme. He was just so hyper and excited about the move and the excitement held all the way until bedtime.
At first he was very excited to get into his new Thomas the Train pajamas and rushed to climb up to the top of his new bunk bed. But once under the covers, the reality that the day was over became a bit much for him. Anthony said goodnight and gave him a hug and kiss and Josh stayed and read him two bedtime stories.

A few minutes later Jayme came out of his bedroom, afraid to be alone. So Anthony grabbed his iPad and took the bottom bunk. In all it took about 30-40 minutes and several failed attempts for Jayme to make it to sleep.

Then at 2:00am we had a little visitor crawling into our bed between us. He had a nightmare and was scared. Very neat bonding experience and shows us that he trusts us completely to meet his needs.

Meeting our son

Today was a BIG day for us. Today we met our son for the first time.

We arrived at his school and headed to the office and signed in. Since we decided we wanted to be on time… we got there about 15 minutes early. So we had to wait… Waiting is very hard when nervous and anxious..This was a very nervous and anxious 15 minute wait. But soon his therapist came, collected us and we headed to his classroom. Along the way she told us how this first meeting would  work and how it had been planned out with Jayme. We stopped by her therapy playroom and picked up some toys that our son had asked for. He really wanted to show us how well he can play drums.

We got to his classroom, his therapist asked us to wait outside while she checked to see if the room was clear of the other kids. She walked in and we heard her say, to Jayme that Joshua and Anthony were here. About 3 nano-seconds later we heard a high pitch giggle and then saw his face dart out from behind the door to see us, before it  retreated back into the safety of the classroom. We waited until we got the all clear and headed in.

Jayme was all dressed up in a waterproof apron and was playing at the water table. He was a bit playful shy to start, but with some prompting assigned us both places to sit near him while he played.

He had gifts for us. First gift was a drawing he had done for us. It was a picture of hairy dinosaurs (see the above masterpiece), the second gift was 2 sponge dinosaurs pills. They are  little pellets that devolve in water to make small sponge dinosaurs. This of course meant he had to use them in the water table to make them for us. Anthony was presented with a green sponge dino and Joshua a blue one.

After we all finished with the water table and put it all away. It was music time. All four of us moved over to a carpeted area and sat down and played some music. Jayme likes to set up several different pieces and create a makeshift mini drum kit setup. He then bangs away.. Josh wasn’t prepared for his strength and almost lost the piece he was holding. We all had instruments, two guitars (0ne with only one string), one child’s xylophone and several drums. We sang a few songs with him and even perplexed him when we asked if we could sing Frere Jaques in french (he only seemed to know the english version). He seemed shock and asked “What’s french?” The thought of “Just wait until your grandparents & uncle get ahold of you, you will find out” did cross our minds.

After music time was over we watched a little video on Joshua’s iPad. The night before we took our camera and did a short 4 minute movie touring the house. He loved it, we watched it about 3 times before our time ran out. He had lots of questions about everything he saw.

As we all headed out into the hallway and started getting ready for the goodbyes. Jayme turned and asked us if he could refer to each of us as Dad. We both said that would be ok.

It was a great first visit.

As the dust settles…

 

We are still both still in a weird state of calm shock.

We found out officially at around 3:30pm Monday. Our adoption clinician called from her cell phone, a Boston area code, which confused Joshua, he let it go to voicemail rather than answer it, which is funny as he was trying to keep the phone line open for her call!  Once Joshua called her back we were able to do a quick conference call with all three of us; our adoption clinician in her car, Joshua at home and Anthony at work.

She told us the committee loved us and it was “a slam dunk”. They were very impressed with the prep we had done for our kid and loved that we had taken the 3 day FASCETS workshop. She also told us that she had big old stack of info for us that our son’s caseworker sent over for us and she would get it to us.

Once Anthony got home from work we had dinner. Anthony had cooked up a fresh back of beans the night before. We of course didn’t know if it would be good or bad news, so we figured a yummy easy comfort food dinner would be best. Homemade bean and cheese burritos with homemade guacamole, chips and salsa….. Super yummy!  OH and one bottle of chilled champagne!  Or as Anthony described as bubbly rotten grapes (he had Sprite). Before dinner was cleaned up we figured we should tell the world so we posted our “it’s a boy” blog.

After dinner our doorbell rang, it was our first adoption clinician; she lives nearby and volunteered to deliver the big old stack of paperwork to us. She was unable to come in and celebrate as her car broke down and she had to have her family come and rescue her. So a quick congratulations and we were alone again, but this time with 7 inches of double sided paperwork.

None of the paperwork was signing rights to us or anything like that. It was just a lot more detailed information on our kid. Everything we have seen up to this point was like the “readers digest” version; this was the full long form information. Some of what we got was revisiting of what we had already seen, with the exception that none of the names were blacked out.  We read through all of his hospital birth records with all the doctors’ notes and lab tests. Read about how he came in to custody of the state and learned more of his birth families back-story. We knew most of this information, at least the summary version of it. We were very lucky to have good people representing our son who were very forthright with information about him.

Now the funniest part of the paperwork happened this morning. After about 2 hours of reading Anthony headed up to bed, intending to finish in the morning before work, Joshua of course kept going and had some sort of OCD moment. When Anthony came down stairs in the early morning hours, what did he find? But all of the new paperwork with new handmade post-it tabs ordered in to chronological order and Marked with more post-its by chapter and subject heading. It was the funniest sight ever and also made Anthony cry, but in a good way.

For the next 7 days we are in a kind of  blackout period.  7 days for us to review the information and allow us to back out if we see something new that we are uncomfortable with or learn something big that we were not told. It also gives a small group of official’s time to appeal the committee’s decision if they feel the committee has made a error (Will not happen in our case). Also, our son will also not be told about us until the 7 days have lapsed.

We sent an E-Mail to our new son’s caseworker this morning saying we had finished the paperwork and we did not see any reason to not move forward with him. What a great feeling to get back a one word response…. “YAY!!!!” We really have this great feeling that we are joining a great team of people all there for our son and us.

Thursday we are meeting that great team for the first time. We also get to see the school he is currently attending. We will also find out Thursday what the transition schedule is going to look like and get a better idea of when we will meet our son for the first time.

Overnight a literal flood of well wishes have hit both of our Facebook accounts, a ton of text messages from out of state friends and relatives, lots of personal E-Mails and more voicemail then we have had in a year. The love we are getting from everyone is staggering and overwhelming! Even more staggering is hearing how moved people have been, several mentioning being brought to tears at the news. We are so lucky to have such great people in our lives, we love you all! But of course, you all know this mean we know where to find you for babysitting duty.

D-DAY

At 1:00pm PST the committee starts

We are hoping to have the answer if we are selected by around 4:00pm.

A new rule allows the committee to think about it for 24 hours so we might not know until tomorrow.

We will post here and on Facebook the results either way.

Thank you everyone for your support and prayers.

 

(Content below reposted from www.lanecountyheartgallery.org)

The committee consists of three members who are usually DHS caseworkers, retired caseworkers, or social workers experienced in the adoption field.  The committee meets for three hours, usually 9-Noon or 1-4 p.m.  Occasionally it lasts longer, but not often.

Committee starts with a presentation of the child by the CW.  Sometimes the child’s foster parent, therapist, court appointed special advocate (CASA), or attorney, is also present and invited to tell about the child as well.  The CW usually brings pictures, or the child’s Life Book, so the committee can view photos.  The goal is for the committee to have a thorough understanding of the child’s identity, personality, and special needs.  The committee members may have questions during this time about the child based on what they hear, read, or otherwise observe.

Once the child has been presented, any representatives for the child, except the CW, are dismissed and the AWs for the families each have a turn telling the committee about the family they represent.  Again, the committee members may have questions for the AW based on what they hear or what they have read in the family’s home study.

The committee members then remark on or list the strengths they heard or read about each family and the concerns they have about each family.  Then they vote.  If the two junior members each vote for a different family, the chair must break the tie with a vote for one of those two families so that we leave committee with a decision.  We nearly always leave committee with a decision about who will adopt the child.

When committee ends, the families receive a call informing them whether or not they were selected by the committee.  The AW who represents each family takes notes throughout the committee, types them, and forwards them to the family, usually the next day.  If a family lives outside Oregon, then at this point our agency will step aside and the family’s AW will work directly with the child’s CW to proceed with the placement.

The CW comes to committee prepared with the child’s files, which are given or sent to the family’s AW.  There is a 7-day blackout period then to give the family an opportunity to review the files more thoroughly with physicians, psychologists, teachers, and whoever else can help the family be certain this is what it wants.  During this time, the CW and AW will work with the family to make a transition plan.


We are just F.I.N.E.

F.I.N.E.

Tuesday we attended our second and perhaps last Pre-Adoption support group, at least as a Pre-Adoptive family. The numbers were down from last time, just 4 families. But we did get a chance to show our hello book to the other families. The Boys and Girls Aid staff member who was running the meeting broke into our caseworker’s office to get it, which is the 2nd time someone has done that. But it was worth it as everyone really liked it, which was a great moral boost. We just hope the committee likes it and more importantly, that the kido loves it.

We did have one moment of dread when one of the support group members asked if we had done a video for the committee to watch as well. Turns out that video presentations are rare and generally not used or super recommended. But for a moment, we started to have a real fear that we had failed to do something.

This whole week has become very emotional. Joshua has become highly irritable and is hiding at work plus doing his best to avoid stressful people. Anthony has lost the ability to sleep, Advil PM has become his new friend. Even Sam is showing some signs of stress. The cats, of course, have no clue what might be about to be unleashed upon their little world, perhaps thats for the best.

We have finished our new video games and are now frantically looking for new things to distract us. The dreaded weekend is quickly approaching, we need to come up with a plan soon of what to do to keep busy. Joshua was going to go skiing but didn’t want to leave Anthony home alone, at least not on this weekend.

Last night the first of the 2011 Oscar movies arrived from Netflix, Toy Story 3. All we can say is WOW, the last threads of our manhood elapsed by the end of the movie. Both of us crying like little girls. In retrospect, probably not the best type of movie to watch when your emotionally on edge. Crying during Pixar movies aside, we really ARE holding up pretty well. No really…..

We completed the last possible thing we could do before the committee meeting last night. We called and spoke with the foster mom. It was a good conversation and we are looking forward to meeting her if all goes well.

We should add this call also gave us our closest contact with the kido that we have ever had, as we could hear him playing in the background during the call. In Oregon, the adoptive parents do not meet the child until after the committee has selected them. So just hearing him playing felt a bit like cheating. It also made it a bit hard to listen and comprehend what the foster mother was saying, while straining to hear anything we could from the kido.

Yes, we are pretty silly.

Just not going to think about it

The weekend started off Friday night. Earlier in the day our adoption clinician came over to meet with Sam. She had only heard good things about him from us and our old Clinician.  With the committee meeting a week away, she wanted to meet him and get a to know him better. She came over Friday afternoon while we were at work. Apparently the meeting was a good one. We came home to this note from her written on our dry erase board: Have a great weekend, it’s probably one of your last quiet ones!

We spent the weekend trying to keep busy and tried not think about her message.  We got up late Saturday morning and decided right way to leave the house. Neither of us wanted to stay indoors all day. With no real plan on what to do we stopped by Target and picked up some new razors and undershirts. Then had lunch at the Olive Garden, which was surprisingly not bad. But, we did only have soup and salad.

After lunch we walked over to the World Market. We loaded up on Jelly Babies & Soft black licorice. Joshua also found a poster. 24×36 on a shiny red metallic paper, BE CALM AND CARE ON.  Buying it was a huge no brainer for us. But what to do with it? And where to put it?

We remembered that Michaels was having a framing sale, so we headed over to see what they might have in ready made frames. After a long debate we picked up a nice brown frame that matches the rest of the house for $34.99.

Sunday the real problem began. Where do we hang it? The walls in our  house are mostly covered by bookcases. The one area that is open and free is the stairwell hallway. The only concern with hanging items in the stairwell was, what if it falls on some ones head. Both of us mentally pictured our kido running/crashing down the stairs (like kids do) and being bonked on the head.

So Anthony drove down to the Home Depot and found a french cleat hanging kit. It’s made up of two interlocking strips of metal. One goes on the wall the other on the frame. To take the frame down off the wall you need to lift it up and out. There is no way anyone walking, running, crashing or jumping down the stairs could do it on accident. The only way this thing will fall is if the wood stud gives out. And if that happens we have much bigger problems. 🙂

Now mounting the metal strip to the frame took 1 min. Mounting the strip to the wall took 30 mins of measuring and finding bits, tape, levels, power cords, ect. Not to mention trying to screw into the wall while leaning over a 30 foot drop. It was fun.

A few of you have asked us what’s up with the poster. Well it kinda means something different to each of us. It has started to mean more to us as we get closer and closer to our committee date. But the real history of the poster is this:

Wikipedia: Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, intended to raise the morale of the British public under the threat of impending invasion…

Now we just need to find a MIND THE GAP poster and our little british themed wall will be perfect!

Keep Calm and Carry On

14 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds until we go to committee. Not that we are keeping track or anything…

So this past week we had an update meeting with our adoption clinician. It was a very positive meeting. We also were able to do a follow up conference call with the kido’s therapist at the same time, which was super helpful. We had a lot of post FAS workshop questions. It’s funny the more you know the more questions you can come up with.

We have another followup phone conference with the kido’s caseworker set for next week to do one last run of follow up questions. But other then that, and barring any new ideas we might come up with or be given to prep ourselves, we are feeling pretty ready.

The hello book is printed and done, we have both finished all of the suggested books & articles and the kido’s room is prepped and ready to go. We are feeling pretty prepared. That in itself is a bit unnerving. But, no matter what the committee decides we both feel we have done all we can and done our best.

So now, we just have to keep ourselves busy and try our best not to think about it. To that end we have picked up 2 new video games for the house. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood & You don’t know Jack. All three of us are big fans of the Assassin’s Creed games, so there has been much negotiating and bribing on who gets to play it and when. You don’t know Jack is a funny Quiz game that all three of us can play. It has very funny and obscure questions.

We also have a new upcoming project. Joshua’s eldest brother Shiloh is getting married in May. He has asked Joshua to be his best man. So you know what that means… Anthony gets to plan the Stag party!!!!

The party right now looks like it will be a night of bowling. The whole party will be very family friendly as we expect Shiloh will to want to bring his daughter to his bachelors party, and we hope our new son. Not to mention, that this will be in Salt Lake City.

This past weekend we had a conference call with Shiloh and his bride to be and talked wedding stuff. And YES, Anthony starting channeling David Tutera. It was a very amusing phone call as 4 people, 2 laptops and 1 iPad all searched the Men’s Warehouse tux rental website.

So the weekend of May 14th, we are heading to Salt Lake city. Still have not decided if we are driving or flying. We will have Sam with us and perhaps a new kido to introduce to the Familia. Price it going to be the biggest factor, because 2 weeks after the wedding we have Joshua’s Birthday trip. This seems to be our new unintentional thing, visit La Familia, then take a vacation. 🙂

Rainpoclypse 2011

So remember our post a week or so back “When it rains it pours”? Well welcome to the THUNDERSTORM 2011.

In fact this should be like one of those manic news broadcasts with zippy storm tracker sound effects and our own seasonal logo…. YOUR Watching Super Action News Five. The Northwest’s leading weather news team. Rainpocalypse 2011! Sponsored by Richman Umbrellas. Now here is news anchor of the year Tom Tucker…..

• First weather system

We now have a date for committee set for kido#1, March 7th 2011. By close of business on the 7th we will know if we are happy new parents or still hopefuls. For this last week we have been quite literally been bouncing off the walls in excitement. The stress level in our house is also on the rise.

We have also started to update our hello book for the kido. The Hello book is a little book we have put together that introduces us, our house, the cats and the kidos room to who we hope will be our son. It’s something he can look at before we meet and before he moves in. The goal and hope is this will make his transition smoother and help take some of the scary parts out for him.

Anthony has been working on the book for 2 years now. So we only need to adjust it to match the kidos personal quirks and likes. We have been told our book is amazing. We just hope we get a chance to use it.

• Second weather system

Got an email from our adoption clinician. The caseworker on kido #2 has set a date for committee and would like to take us as one of the families three families.  She was REALLY excited about us as a match.

Our first reaction was shock. We had asked for some better info on the kido and never really heard back. And kinda had become very fousced on kido #1

The punch to the gut detail was the date for kido #2’s committee meeting March 2nd 2011. For those of you keeping track that is 5 days earlier then the kido we have been targeting.*best Charlie Brown impression here* ARRRRGGGH

We have been VERY focused on kido #1 and have been doing a lot of prep work for that committee, to try and jump tracks now seemed unfair and really did not feel emotionally right. It also did not seem fair to other families or either of the kidos, perhaps we are just to sensitive and not cut throat enough. But after a long conversation with our adoption clinician we decided to see if we could get a later committee date on kido #2 after kido #1’s.  If not we would pass on going to the committee with kido #2. We felt we did not have enough good information on kido #2 to put a potential placement with kido #1 (who we do have good intel on) in jeopardy.

So our adoption clinician went back to the caseworker and it turned out the caseworker was NOT willing to move the date.  Seems the caseworker is going on a long vacation in a few weeks and she wants to finish up all her open cases before she leaves.  So we ended up passing.

But doing so turned out to be a big relief.  Even thinking about going to two committees at once created a huge stress jump in our lives. Sticking to one committee not only lowered the stress levels it will help us remain focused and give us more time to prepare for the best case scenario, a PLACEMENT with kido #1!

Pre-adoption support group & FAS workshop

Pre-adoption support group So a few weeks ago we got an E-Mail from our adoption agency inviting us to a new waiting parents support group that they were starting up. So we signed up. We are BIG fans of our agency and were excited to see what the group would be like. Because this is a private group we will not mention here about anything said for confidentiality reasons. But we will blog about our experience, which was a pretty positive one. Out of the whole group, we have the oldest home study and it seems that we have also been actively processing this for a lot longer than some of the other members. Most of our fellow members are just starting their active adoption journey, which was a real shock to us. As the meeting started and we all started to talk and share, it seemed like we all were a bit tight lipped on details. There was also a weird vibe in the air. Everything was discussed with broad strokes. You have to understand that the group itself is made up of other families that could be competing for the same kido. We don’t feel anyone in the room feels hostility to anyone else, but there was a weird self protective vibe. But by the end of the meeting as everyone got more comfortable talking the vibe was a bit more normal, if there can even be such a thing. Since were were the old farts in the room we actually felt a ton better since we mentally got to say to ourselves, “Been there, done that.” FAS Workshop This past weekend we  completed a 3 day FAS / FAE  (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome / Fetal Alcohol Effect) workshop. The Workshop was hosted by FASCETS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Consultation, Education and Training Services). The funny thing was it was held at the Mark Spencer hotel. A hotel both of us know well from our work with the ISRC. It was a bit weird spending 3 days in the coronation hospitality room. It was also a bit weird to discuss alcohol and it’s effects then step outside and see Boxxes/Redcap & Scandals and the Roxy. The workshop was a very detailed course and we feel a must for anyone who will be working with children. The numbers of kids born with FASE is crazy and the training was invaluable. The course gave us a new understanding and way of looking at some of the kidos we have been submitting our home study on. We were the only pre-adoptive family in the workshop. About half of our classmates are parents of children with FAS or FASE. The remainder of our classmates where teachers and child care professionals. We also had one Lawyer and one legal advocate. Thanks to the class diversity, we had several interesting class conversations. It made for some very interesting discussions and we feel it gave us some better tools in our parenting box.

THE NEXT STEP

So Monday (January 24th 2010) we got an E-Mail from our adoption clinician. She had heard back from the caseworker for the kiddo who we did a conference call with 2 weeks ago. She told us that the kiddo s caseworker had decided to send us to committee. She also mentioned that at this point the caseworker had yetto identify any other families to send to committee Also; no date has been set for the committee meeting, so we don’t know if this will be weeks or months of waiting.

We have only gone to committee once before. Some families go multiple times before they are matched to a child. Just because you’re sent to committee doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a placement.

Because we don’t know how long we will have before the committee meeting, we have decided to spend this time prepping for a hopeful placement. So we have started to improve our knowledge base, this time learning more on how to directly meet the needs of this particular kiddo better. This is turning out to be a good thing and a bad thing.

On the good side we have time to go back through the house and re-kid proof it. We also are going to upgrade our child proofing of the house to have High Focus, something the kiddo’s therapist mentioned about be very helpful. We are still looking into this and will post as we learn more. We have also started reading a new book, Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s parents, which was also recommended by the kiddo’s therapist.  Also, based off another recommendation by the therapist, we have signed up for a 3 day workshop here in Portland to get a better understanding of this kiddo s needs.

On the “bad” side we have found ourselves becoming, perhaps, a bit too optimistic. In conversation the generic term “kiddo” has slowly and unconsciously been replaced with the kiddo’s real name (something we are fighting). When arranging for our two upcoming family trips in May, more and more of the planning seems to be centered around this child’s special needs, you know, just in case. We have even started to identify which children in the neighborhood OUR kiddo will not be playing with and which ones look safe.

All of this is great news if we are selected in committee, but probably not the best emotional thing for us if we are not. Right now, we are trying to find that proper balance of excitement, necessary planning and the elusive emotionally distant safe point.

We know that this kiddo might not be the one, but it is very hard not to hope and dream.

When it rains…..

Today (1/12/11) we had our first conversation with the kido’s caseworker and therapist. The conference call was a really good one. It’s clear that the people in this kiddo’s life are really looking for the best fit for him. They had a lot nice things to say about the kiddo and where very frank about his strengths and the areas he is still working on. They also had a lot of cute stories that helped describe him and his needs better.

The weird part was they had some follow up questions for us. This was kind of new as the last 2 times we have done similar conference calls, all the questions had been one sided coming from us only. This change got us really got us excited. In the past two times, the tone and answers made us feel that once and if the placement happened, we would be on our own. But this time by their questions and answers, clearly is would not the case. They described the strong team of support and services for before, during and after the adoption for the kiddo and our family.  The funny thing was they seemed to be worried we would want to grab the child and go it alone, which is SO not us. It was really hard not to yell out “YES, this is so what we want!” or comments like “If you hire us we promise to work really, really hard.” :)

At the end the call, we all were a bit jazzed. This kido feels like a match to us and more importantly it also feels like we are a match to him.  But, and there are some big buts, he is not ours to just take. First, he is still considered legal risk. Meaning that there is still a very small remote chance his status will change from an adoption track back to one that would try to reunite him with the family he was removed from. Second, this is a great kid and as we mentioned before, we will not be the only family who will see how great he is. This means that there could be some real competition. Third, just because we think it’s a match, the caseworker may not or might think there are stronger matches. Even if she picks us as one of the three families for committee, the adoption committee will make the final decision.

After such a good conference call it’s hard not to get hopeful, but we are trying very hard to be realistic and pragmatic. We are still long ways off from the happy dance time.

Oh… remember those adoption loop-de-loops we mentioned in our last post?  Well, an hour and half before our conference call, our adoption clinician got a phone call from another kiddo’s caseworker asking if we would still be interested in learning more about her kido that we submitted on.

489 days later…

So we have returned from our vacation and survived the holidays. Time to get back on the emotional adoption roller coaster, with all the emotional rushes, crazy happy highs with super fast sad lows, mental inversions and those fun loopy loops that get thrown at you along the way.

• Four hundred and eighty nine days ago we completed our homestudy.

• Four hundred and eighty nine days ago we sat and looked through the big bulletin book and found 12 kidos profiles that we liked.

• Four hundred and eighty nine days ago at the top of our list, our very first selection was a cute 4 year old boy.

Well, today (1/3/2011) four hundred and eighty nine days later, we got a response back from that kido’s caseworker and attorney coupled with 66 pages of additional information on the now, still cute, 5 year old boy.

The funny thing is Anthony woke up this morning and said that we would hear from adoption clinician today. That he had a weird premonition that we would. And sure enough we did! Now why can’t he get some premonitions on some Powerball numbers?

On our last ride on the adoption emotional roller coaster our stress level got  pretty high and it got pretty emotional as we de-boarded the ride vehicle  (see old post). But those experiences have seemed to have had a tempering effect on us. So far we are handling the first big hill on the adoption roller coaster pretty well. That or it was the Disney World Therapy.

Our adoption clinician is setting up a conference call with the kiddo’s caseworker and therapist for sometime next week. So we have started creating a list of questions for the conference call. We have done this twice before on other kiddo’s so we get to kinda cheat and use our old questions as a guide for the new questions LOL.

Again, just to recap the process. This is step two of many many steps, so hold the applause. If we still like the kiddo after the confernce call and the kiddo’s caseworker still likes us, there likely will be more questions and more follow ups.

If at the end of that process the caseworker will select  up to three families from a pool of unknown (to us) hopefuls.. They only take the best three matches and we don’t know how many other families the caseworker is talking to. Based on how cool this kido is on paper, it should be a lot! We could be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. We will not know for a long time.

So to make a long story short (too late), it’s WAY to early to get excited about anything… other then the first drop. Arms up everyone!

We don’t roll that way man…

Last two days in the parks (Saturday & Sunday) were set at the slow wander pace on our speedometers. Saturday we scheduled ourselves to spend the whole day in the Magic Kingdom. With a projected high of only 67 we called it close enough and broke out the shorts. We had breakfast reservations at the Poly for 8:00am so it was another early day for us. But was it worth it! Kona Cafe for Breakfast, best breakfast maybe meal of our whole trip and really restored our faith in Disney Dinning. The Cafe was EMPTY, we a nice corner booth table and a great service. Anthony ordered the Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes – Served with Macadamia nut butter, pineapple sauce, and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage.  And Joshua got the Big Kahuna – French Toast, pancakes, eggs your way, home fried potatoes, ham, bacon, and sausage. Joshua also ordered a LARGE press pot of 100% Kona Coffee! We simply love the Polynesian Resort, no matter what the cost is next trip we are so staying there! Service was great and the food was great! After breakfast we took the Monorail to the Magic kingdom from the Polynesian Resorts Monorail stop. Did we mention we are staying at the Poly next time?  Thanks to the warmer weather most the flowers frost blankets were not gone and most of  the holiday gardening was out to see. We spent the wandering round the park. We did the train twice! Lunch was at the Liberty Tree tavern… nothing to write home about. After lunch we decided it was nap time, and jumped one of the Disney busses back to our dump/resort. We had such a good parking spot we wanted to keep it for when we left for good later in the night. Bus took 30mins to get to the resort… another 30 mins later and we were in nap land. After our nice nap we dressed and took the bus back in to the Magic kingdom and from their hoped a boat to the Wilderness Lodge Resort for a nice dinner at the Artist Point restaurant. On our way back from dinner on the boat  we noticed a thin layer of fog forming on the lake. It was supper romantic. The boat ride only takes about 10 minutes but by the time we deboarded and made it past the railroad archway, the light fog had rolled in and gotten much thicker. We headed over to Tomorrow land and killed some time before the fireworks and walked out to the top of Mainstreet USA about 200 ft from the front of the Castle and watched as the fireworks began. At first it was cool, the hazy Castle with defused lights shining all round it. Then the fireworks started  popping though the haze. But once the fireworks started to really go, the smoke and fog mixed and it go harder and harder to see the fireworks. Then the castle itself disappeared into haze and only the largest explosions cut though the smoke and fog. We found ourselves getting cloeser and closer as the crowds poured out of the park all upset at the fog. By the time the music for the fireworks ended and the castle ice lights came back on we were in front of the castle alone. We loved it! The fog was so cool. But we seems to be the only ones with that feeling. We hung around and rode some more rides and waited for the Main Street Electrical Parade which was scheduled for 10pm. Now here is the funny part, they ran the Fireworks in 0% visibly but 10 mins before the ground level parade was set to start they announced that it was delayed due to weather. So we decided to shop and look for new coffee mugs, Joshua has a great Stitch one and Anthony needed one (so he will stop using Joshua’s). Just as we were wrapping up our shopping the Parade began. Joshua kinda went crazy and too 250+ photos. SOME of them are online to view. After the parade we headed out and drove back to our hotel. Walked up to the front door and swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. And then swiped our key card. WTF!!!!!! Yes, we were locked out of our room. And to make it just a bit more fun all the fog had gotten into Anthony’s lungs and his inhaler was in the room. It took 45 mins standing outside in the cold and two trips to the front desk to get someone to come to our room and let us in. Aggghhhh did we mention never again at a Disney Value hotel? Sunday Morning we got up late (sine we were up late waiting to get in our room) and finished packing. Loaded the Kia and waved goodbye to the movie resort… well not yet. Seems on our final bill they had billed us twice for the same tip, our posh breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Took about 10 mins waiting in line, 10 mins to find a manager to ok the refund and another 10mins to figure out how to do it. Did we mention never again at a Disney Value hotel? Using our best and most refined rude gestures to the inanimate main-gate sign for the All Star Movies resort, we drove off and headed towards EPCOT. Sunday’s weather was cool high 50’s. After a week of cold weather Anthony was on the cusp of getting sick. Running nose and a general feeling of death. Because of events from this youth, it takes much yelling to get him to take medicine. So finally today he broke down on the way to EPCOT and took some meds as we parked. We had lunch at the Paris Bistro and argued about which French waiter boy to kidnaped to take home with us (I see a trip to Paris in our future) We also finally got to ride the Universe of Energy ride (Anthony’s Favorite ride). But as the weather got cooler and Anthony turned paler, we decided to head to the airport early stopping off in Downtown Disney for some final shopping and a early dinner at the Earl of Sandwich. Our flight home was at 8:30pm on US Airways. Our last official time ever flying with them if we can help it. We made that ruling back on our November PHX trip, but our Disney trip already booked by then. US Airways planes are just too dang cheap, seats are too small, planes are too old and crews are underpaid/tired/rude. On our last trip to Orlando in 2007 we got bumped off our US Airways flight home so another flight could have our plane. This caused us to had to spend the night at the airport in the Hyatt hotel. In the end we have had just too many bad events happen with them That said we were secretly hoping for another plane issue so we would get bumped again and could cuddle up together in a nice plush king bed. It didn’t happen, but we did get some great customer service from our Jamaican check-in lady. She called is right up to her area, there was no line which was nice! As we pulled out our fight confirmation numbers she started the check in process. First she had us weigh our bags and paid the baggage fee for each bag. Both just under the limit! When the fee was paid Anthony asked for our boarding passes. Her reply was (in a Jamaican accent) “We don’t roll that way round here.. Man. First we take the money for the bags then we deal with the people.” YES!  We had a new Mantra for the evening…. ‘We don’t Roll that way man” Feel free to use it as well, but remember the Jamaican accent. Knowing how bad and tight the seating is on US Airways we checked into see how much an upgrade to first class would be, but at $300.00 per person, we had to be happy with our cheap small seats. Blowing and extra $600.00 was not in the stars. Our flight was Orlando to PHX then we had to switch planes for the final leg to Portland. On our landing in PHX, the plane made the normal approach, lowered the wheels and was about 50 feet from touchdown when suddenly the plane shot violently back up into the air. Seems there was another plane on the runway and our pilot wanted to live. Our near miss in PHX caused us to be late for our connection home, but luckily they held the plane for us. We landed at home at 1:30am tired and glad to be home.

One Taste of Africa, Two Cob Salads & TRON

We woke the next day to a freezing 32 degrees and full sun. After going through the morning bathing and dressing rituals we jumped back into the Kia and drove over to the Animal Kingdom Resort. The high temperature for the day was suppose to be 71. Silly weather channel.. Still we held on to our heavy coats and jeans.

We had 9:00am breakfast reservations at Boma. We got a little lost on the way to the Resort as the road wasn’t clearly marked, so we arrived a bit late, but they took us right in. Boma is a buffet, they take you to your seat, take your drink order then send you off to the buffet. We kinda were expecting something more African and food weird. But everything was pretty american normal.The most daring menu item was a corn beef hash furtada. Oh that and jungle juice…. the waitress came by while we where eating and asked us if we would like some jungle juice. Weird images from our youth came quickly to mind of teenage parties where jungle juice was a weird mixture of strawberry flavored boones and cheap beer. So we asked what is it, the guy sitting at the next table to us chimed it, “Oh it’s great! You’ll love it!” The waitress said, “It’s passionfruit, orange & guava.” We both yelled out a bit relived “Oh it’s POG!” Only to get sour faces back. Both the waitress and other diner clearly preferred to call it jungle juice and looked a bit miffed.

After breakfast we headed over to Animal Kingdom theme park. Now this park in the past visits has been our least favorite, so we had no intention of staying to long. Plan was to hit Expedition Everest a few times, have lunch and then go take a long nap. Turns out as we left the park later that afternoon, we found ourselves reflecting on a nice day. We skipped the Kilimanjaro speedway Safari and the water rapids ride (too cold to be wet). Got two good rides in on Expedition Everest and were happy that some age on the tracks has help make the ride feel a bit more like a runway train rather then the super smooth ride it was before. On our last visit we didn’t make it up to the train ride to the conservation center, so it was our 2nd attraction on the list.

The short train ride takes you semi-backstage to see some animal pens and allows you walk around and peek in to the vet treatment rooms and watch procedures being performed. This was nothing new for Joshua since we works for Banfield. So we moved pretty fast though this area, but it would be very cool for a kido who is into animals. Lunch was at the Tusker House, which turns out was another Buffet. We didn’t stuff ourselves on breakfast so we had some room for lunch. The buffet selections were good. Again nothing weird or adventurous. After lunch we wandered down and out of the park and headed home for a long nap.

After our nap we decided to cancel our dinning reservation we had back at the Animal Kingdom villas and try to do a walk up at EPCOT. We had skipped illuminations the night before to the weather, so the new plan was to find some dinner and some fireworks. We got to EPCOT about 6:00pm and after a ride on spaceship earth we walked up via mexico to Italy to see if we could get a seat at one of the new italian restaurants. Turned out to be a big no, so we started walked down towards England and walked right into a lady standing in the street in Morocco. Turned out this is a good thing as she was promoting the Moroccan restaurant. She wrote down a little note in Arabic and gave us directions on were to go. A few minutes later were sitting at our table.

After another americanized meal we found a great spot down in England and watched the illuminations fireworks and the special holiday fireworks ending.

Friday Morning we got our first long sleep in. We had lunch reservations at 11:50am at the 50’s Prime Time cafe and nothing on the books for breakfast so we slept in and took our time getting over to Hollywood Studios. With a high of 77 we finally broke out the shorts!
We got to Hollywood Studios with plenty of time to spare for lunch so we made a beeline for Pixar Place to get fast passes for Midway Mania. We got the passes but for 6:45pm, tonight was our 7:00pm showing of TRON. So we decided with a small tear that we didn’t like that ride (complete lie..) anyway and jumped on the Great Movie Ride.
Lunch was at the 50′ Prime Time Cafe. Which is a cute restaurant that has 50’s TV’s playing video clips. All of the staff pretend that MOM is cooking and make sure everyone follows moms house rules. No elbows on the table, no games at the table… ect. Anthony had lunch here back in the 90’s and wanted to share the cool place with Joshua. WOW was that a mistake.

The first hiccup came when our name was called. Half way to our table (in the good area) the server realizes that our table already has guest at it. So back we all go to the waiting room to wait. A moment later we get taken to what can only be an after thought room. The server pulls apart a 4 top table and converts it to two 2 tops with a 3 inch gap between the two tables. The room is bare, white. One TV in corner that we can’t really see. No cool theming like the main restaurant. So we were a bit bummed but played along, not everyone can sit in the cool area and at least we are not in the bathroom like our dinner at the Blue Bayou. We as we looked at our menu the server came out again and seated two more people at our table, or rather the table that is 3 inches from our table. SO begins the uncomfortable non-verbal lunch by both tables.

What food we did get was not worth any hype. Joshua ordered the chicken pot pie and Anthony the Fried Chicken. Instead of the wonderful lunch Joshua was expecting he got the meatloaf. Our waitress was also a walking mess as she seemed a little perturbed.. Lunch took over anhour and 45mins of that was us waiting for her. This was the only restaurant for our whole vacation were we left ZERO tip. This was the worst dinning experience we had for the whole trip! So now came the hard part of the day and the main reason that Hollywood Studios is now our least favorite park. After lunch there was nothing to do…. Well almost nothing. Joshua did Tower of Terror once. But the lines for Midway were over 90mins and so we the Aerosmith roller coster. Even star tours was closed.

So we did the short backlot tour and checked out the animators area and demonstrations. The real highlight of our day we Dinner at the Brown Derby, a restaurant we LOVE. Problem was killing time between lunch and dinner. We ended up doing a lot of walking and pre-shopping. For dinner at the Brown Derby we had a mission… Cob Salad.

We love the Brown Derby’s Cobb salad. And joy of joy it is no longer served as a 2 person appetizer. Which really would not have matter too much as we both wanted it. Problem was the single serving is still the double serving portion. So we ending up with 2 HUGE bowels of salad! It was so funny as both of us tried to eat as much as we could, just like two little kids, as we loved it so much. So you know what they say don’t fill up on bread you will spoil your
dinner. Well we kinda did. When our main course came we both kinda poked at them, they were good but the salad was SO much better. Josh had the double bean vanilla creme brûlée for dessert and was in seventh heaven.. Next visit we are going to get the Cobb Salad as our main course and split one order between the two of us!

So after dinner at the Brown Derby we headed over to  the Osborn Lights. They were very very pretty! Over 3 million LCD lights! The streets were packed and just
as we got to the middle it dawned on us that we only had 40mins to get to our movie!
We speed walked all the way to the furthest parking lot in 10 mins! We burned off most of dinner LOL!

TRON legacy was showing at the Downtown Disney AMC theater, which was about a 10min drive from Hollywood Studios. We both are Sci-Fi geeks and Anthony LOVED the original TRON movie as a child. So seeing TRON legacy on Disney Property on opening night was like a little kids dream come true.We have a large screen TV in our home and rarely go see movies in a theater. We find it too noisy and hate the high cost. But we where really impressed with this theater. Super comfy seats and the picture quality and sound was amazing.

According to Disney… “The AMC Entertainment upgraded auditorium one to be the first Enhanced Theater Experience (ETX™) in the United States. The ETX auditorium includes a 20 percent larger, floor-to-ceiling screen, 3D technology, 12 channel audio and digital projection that delivers higher resolution than HD.” The extra tech really was noticeable! We LOVED the movie, for once the hype matched the movie. Fingers crossed for a third film!

Thanksgiving 2010 – Phoenix Style

For thanksgiving this year we headed down to Joshua’s Parents home in Phoenix Arizona for a grand gathering of the Sorensen relatives. We left Portland Wednesday afternoon. Joshua had the whole week off, but Anthony had to work a half day. So we met up at the airport.

Our flight was on US Airways… not our favorite air carrier. US Airways was the airline that left us overnight in MCO back in 2007.  Airport security was quick and painless. After all the news about nude scanners and groping TSA workers.. No body scan, no pat down. Even the lines were quick. So much for the busiest travel day of the year!

The flight down was quick but cramped. Anthony got stuck with the center seat next to young woman of size. Causing him to sit for 2 hours with his arms crossed on the seat crack between his and Joshua’s seat. But Joshua had ripped all of I, Claudiusto Anthony’s iPad, so he was happy.

Even though it was a short 5 day trip we took two checked bags down. Joshua packed 5 bottles of wine to take down to his parents for thanksgiving and their anniversary party. It ending up costing us $40 bucks to check both bags. This felt totally silly as it seems none of the other passengers checked any luggage.  It was shocking to see how many people tried to board with HUGE overstuffed suitcases. All of this hassle to escape having to pay the dumb bag fee.

US Airways should take note and kill the bag fees. A huge amount of time was spent by the flight crew trying to find room for all the unpaid bags. It made us feel like we had been taken in some sort of bag scam, since we were dumb enough to pay the fee.

We rented a car from Thrifty and had signed up for the free blue chip program online, which meant that we got to skip the line and just walk right down to the car. They had our paperwork all printed out and picked the car we wanted and drove off. It was a nice treat as we were both a bit tired.

Now for a word on the Phoenix drivers… There seems to be three types: Fast 50mph-65mph, Faster 65mph-90mph and “That guy is going to get people killed!”. All the main roads seem to be 6 lane highways, no really, they have 6 lanes. Our guess why is to accommodate all three types of drivers in both directions.

We got to our hotel, Hyatt Place.  The time change had kind of messed up our internal clocks and at 8:30pm we realized we needed to eat. We drove over to the mall area and while looking for food found a Disney discount store! Of course we had to stop and buy some pins. They were mostly picked clean but still had one Stitch pin and 4 O-pin house key pins. We of course grabbed them right up.

After an ok dinner at Chevy’s we headed back to Hyatt Place. Our room was nice, the bed a bit hard. The only real issue we had with the hotel came at 3:30 in the morning when we were woken by the hotel’s fire alarm blasting. We of course did exactly what you should never do; we got dressed, grabbed personal items (our iPads, wallets & keys) and exited our room. We did check the door for heat before opening it, so I guess we get some safely points back.

The hallway smelled of smoke, and several other hotel guests had their doors open and seemed to be looking to see what to do. From this point forward we were a bit smarter then the pack and ignored the elevators and headed for the stairs. Fourth floor to the ground floor to 20 secs and 10 secs more we had exited the hotel to the assigned evacuation point. We looked around and we were all alone. Not a single other hotel guest was in sight. Stranger still, no fire trucks, no response trucks, no ambulances. Not even an overweight rent-a-cop security officer to help control the nonexistence crowds.

So we sat on a bench outside for a few minutes, jet-lagged and still half asleep. We didn’t know if we should drive away, stay put or go back in and go to sleep. So we headed back in and over heard the front desk person on the phone yelling at someone it was just a burned out light fixture and everything was ok. So we took the elevator back to our floor and sure enough a few doors down from our room a gentleman was cleaning a burned wall sconce. We returned to bed only to wake a few hours later, exhausted. We headed down stairs for the free toast breakfast then headed right back upstairs and when back to bed. But by 11am we were dressed and headed out to Starbucks.

One of the best people watching events of the trip was watching the Phoenix natives “pretend” it’s cold. It was 63 degrees and sunny, everyone was walking around in heavy sweaters and snow jackets. One lady even did the “shiver body” cold dance, hugging herself for warmth as she came into the Starbucks in a fur hooded ski jacket, long pants and fur trimmed boots. The irony of it all to us was we were a little mad for not packing shorts to wear! It didn’t even dawn on us to pack then as it was 17 degrees in Portland the night before we had left. Seems in Phoenix they pretend it cold wet and Portland we pretend it’s warm and dry.

We spent the Turkey day visiting with the extended family. There were 15 for dinner. Joshua’s father cooked Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, broccoli with cheese, mash potatoes & stuffing. Which is funny as Joshua’s father doesn’t really like to eat turkey…

http://www.desoren.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/clfood.gifThe next day, Friday, we had breakfast at Millie’s. We picked it because it was close and that there is a Millie’s in Anaheim right next to Disneyland, we thought it would be cute to eat their since we are two weeks out from our Disney World trip. It turned out to be a mistake. The food was kind of gross. We also got sat next to the espresso machine and for some reason Arizonians must love burnt milk. We got to hear cup after cup of milk being destroyed via the espresso steamer. It was like nails on a chalkboard for both of us as former baristas. They did have nice warm muffins and it was pretty cheap. But we will be skipping this place in the future.

After breakfast and another run to Starbucks to cancel out breakfast, we headed back to Joshua’s parents house. Today was their 30th anniversary party. We got over to the house early before the other guests arrived and dug out a huge box of Legos. The Legos are the combined remains of all 4 of the Sorensen boys’ childhood Legos. We claimed them for our future kiddo and shipped them home. The anniversary party was nice and very laid back. Paul, Joshua’s dad served a Mexican food buffet. We started up a Texas hold-em game with Joshua’s Grandmother, Sam & Kelly and 2 Sorensen cousins.

The next day we slept in and were nice and lazy. We did brunch/lunch with Joshua’s mother at Macaroni grill. (Yes, the hated Italian butter place.) When we walked in and the smell of melted plastic wafted in from the kitchen. So our hopes of an edible meal died pretty fast. But, it turned out to be an ok meal, the company was much better. After lunch we headed over the meet up with Sam and Kelly for a movie and saw the latest Harry Potter,it was good. What was better was how cheap it all was. Kelly had the inside scoop on getting discounts. But even before the discount we were shocked at how cheap the drinks and snacks were and this was not a discount theater. Seems Portland just costs more…

After the movie we headed to a private dinner with Joshua’s Grandparents and Parents. Somehow our private dinner turned into another family gathering. We ended up eating leftovers.

The next day we flew out on US Airways again. Short flight again and Anthony got a window seat!

We both were a little worried that Thanksgiving would be hard on us emotionally because of the adoption and our recent experiences. And it was a bit tough at times. We only really got hit with the”How’s the adoption going?” question twice. Both times we quickly rattled off some facts and justifications and quickly changed the topic. Turns out the hardest thing was watching 3 year old cousin Grace run around being all cute, adorable and not ours.

Adoption Washington – update

As we have posted before, we have started to branch out into the state of Washington in our search for a child to adopt. Venturing into Washington is a bit scary for us. We have heard several scary stories and tales that originally made us stay firmly on the Oregon side of the mighty Columbia. But as time has gone on in our adoption journey, we have been tempted across the river…. So we felt we should share here in our adoption blog what our feelings and what the results have been like. So far “it’s really not so very scary” and mostly just sad.

The first few submissions did not yield any results, which was not uncommon or unexpected. On 99.9% of our Oregon submissions we never hear a word back, not even a polite “No thank you”. But on the last two and most recent Washington submissions we not only got responses back, we got real interest from both caseworkers. Within a few days we found ourselves reading over two different 50+ page long faxes full of details and information all about these two very different little boys.

We will not get into anything specific on the children to protect their privacy, but both have heart breaking stories and some real warning flags surrounding both their mental health and past behaviors.

Even with over 50 pages of information on each child, we found there was surprisingly very little real information to go on to figure out who these kids are. Much of the medical information was old and just brief summaries highlighting the worst. Many times diagnoses were conflicting with other diagnoses. Joshua even noticed the same drug being prescribed under two different brand names.

We found it hard to tell from the dry text if the child’s behavior is a warning sign for worse issues or if it was the rotten caregivers/parents that triggered the behavior in the first place. A lot that was shared with us was red tape paperwork with lots data, plans of action but little real info to tell us who the child is and what he is like. But from what we have seen from the info you get in Oregon this is par for the course.

In the end we found ourselves looking a big list of highlighted worst behaviors. Facing and trying to work past those highlighted sections turned out to be harder than we had first thought and a very introspective process. There is this little voice in your head that says “Did you just turn up your nose?” or “You should be grateful for what you can get!” or “Starving people would love to eat that!” (Sorry wrong voice but you get our point.)

It boils down to this, adopting a child will change our life. We know that and are excited to embrace that 100% no question. But  are we willing to change our life even more beyond that HUGE step? What parenting experience are we aiming for/hoping for? What parenting experience are we willing to accept.

In reviewing these two boys we found ourselves reviewing our own commitment. Are we willing take on the ongoing needs of a specific behavioral issue or medical problem and all the stress and additional problems that come with it? Are we willing to give away our pets? Are we prepared to provide 24 hour line of sight parenting? Where is the magic line in the adoption sand that we as a family will not cross on our adoption journey?

So after a few days to think about all this “fun” stuff, we had a long face to face meeting at Boys and Girls aid with our caseworkers. We brought a long three page list of follow up questions. Turns out so did our caseworkers, which was great because as we descended down our list we found that we were all on the same page and had a lot of the same questions. It was a great feeling and helped to quiet a few of our fears down a bunch. The four of us had a very frank conversation about all of our concerns and what the DeSoren household and what our world might look like with either placement.

We got back fairly fast response on kiddo #1. And we quickly had 4-way conference call with the current foster dad. A few weeks later we had a follow up call with kiddo #1’s therapist. After the foster dad’s call everyone felt very positive and for about 2 weeks we thought we might have found the one. According to the foster dad kiddo #1 is high needs but making good progress and things look bright. But after the call with the therapist, the whole idea of adopting kiddo #1 seemed like a very bad idea and a very poor match to our family. The therapist told us a story of a child with very high needs and more coming down the road. The call with the therapist really soured our impression of the kiddo.

Kiddo #2 was about the same. After reading all of the additional information we got back we felt the kiddo was not ready to be placed in an adoptive home yet and would not thrive without some additional therapy first.

So in the end we walked away from both kids. But for about a month every day felt like we were almost at the finish line. We are both a bit emotionally sensitive about it right now. And are both dealing with it differently and in our own way. Both of us are dreading getting the adoption questions next week when we meet up with the extended family for turkey day.

The waiting is hard, but the ramping up towards the goal only to end up at square one is even worse. Its a huge high and then huge crash followed by a feeling that we have failed and will never find our kid. The thing we have to keep telling ourselves is this really is a matching process. And at the end we will find the right kid. In the end it’s about making a good match and successful family, we get that. But it’s hard not to want a faster solution.  It’s hard not to leap for a sure thing even when you know it’s not the best move for you or the child. It’s hard not to feel, our love will solve all the kiddo’s problems.

Oh for the old days were you could show up at the good old Minimum-Security Orphanarium and just pick the kid you want.

The alpha and omega experience

The Nephew Unleashed

Last week we got a surprise last minute visit from Anthony’s Nephew. He texted and phoned us to let us know that he was coming up to Portland with his dad and wanted to know if he could crash at our place for one night.  So after some text messages, Facebook messages and a phone call with his dad; it was arranged for him to spend Thursday night with us. On a side note, people we do not use our phone like mere mortals.  You want us? Please email us for a quick reply.  We both suffer from undiagnosed Phone-phobia. Well…. at least that is our story and we are sticking to it.)

He arrived about 6:00pm Thursday night with a HUGE suitcase. This prompted lots of “you moving in?” jokes. After he was settled in, we woke up the Samual and all four of us drove over to Claim Jumpers for nice dinner. Yes, per the norm Anthony got the pot pie and Joshua got his cornbread. Over dinner got to hear all the latest family drama and got a chance to catch up with our nephew. That evening Sam and the nephew glued themselves to the downstairs TV playing Star Wars Unleashed II.

Anthony’s nephew also wanted to visit PSU (Portland State University) on this visit. So Anthony was able to get some last minute time off of work and Joshua was able to get permission to come in late. So the next morning we left Sam in bed and the three of us headed over to Biscuits for breakfast. Then Joshua headed to work and Anthony and the nephew headed downtown on the green line MAX for PSU.

Campus Tour

If you have been a regular reader of our blog you know that for the past few years we have been focusing on adopting a child. This means a lot of time, planning and dreaming about those childhood moments (at least for us) with a child aged 4-9, like first day of school, braces, etc.  So going down and taking a college tour with a 17 year old young man, someone who is ready and eager to break out of the family unit and become independent was a big blow to the system. We are just not ready for that stage. 🙂

PSU holds some great memories for Anthony, lot of his misspent youth was downtown on or near the PSU campus and in the dorm rooms (enough said). So it was kind of a tour down memory lane and made him feel a bit oldish. It was also a very weird pre-adoptive parent experience, almost like reading an imaginary book called “Parenting: The Experience” but reading it backwards.

But the real mindblower was the fact at noon we (Josh & Anthony) had a prescheduled conference call with our adoption caseworker and the foster dad of a child in Washington that we are in the process of learning a bit more about. The PSU tour was scheduled to end right at noon which was the same time as our conference call was scheduled to begin.

Looking back, the tour guide must have though Anthony hated the tour as he had a very “hurry up” look on his face as the clock approached noon. But the nephew loved the campus and was very jazzed. The gods must have been smiling because just as Anthony and the nephew were handing back in their tour headphones, the conference call came in. Nothing like the Doctor Who soundtrack ring tone blasting from a phone set at its highest level and full vibrate right at the end of a quiet tour… Again, it must have been a funny sight to see Anthony make a beeline outside.

The conference call

Recently after hearing back from a child we submitted on and getting more information about him we found ourselves having a hard time trying to get inside this child’s head and get a good idea of who he is and what we should expect if we were luckily enough to be selected for placement. So after submitting some additional questions back to the child’s caseworker, she recommended that we talk directly to the foster family.

It was a fun call. Well… fun from the nerdy logistics of it all. Our caseworker called each of us; one in Washington (the foster dad), one at work (Joshua) and one sitting on a stone bench outside in the cold (Anthony). It was a nice call and very informative and did change our minds about the child’s needs. The foster father was very forthcoming about the child’s past and progress. Expect a post in the near future.

After freezing outside for an hour on a conference call, Anthony took the frozen nephew out for pizza and then home for some “wholesome” Southpark cartoons.

So a weird day and a glimpse of a hopeful future from two very different positions; a young man searching for independence and 2 oldish (Joshua resents this verbiage) men looking for a little dependent.

Dear Red Logo Video Streaming Company

Dear Red Logo Video Streaming Company,

First, thank you for your wonderful service, thanks to you we are canceling cable later this month and we will be saving a bunch of money!

But we are writing you today to make an unreasonable request. It mainly stems from our watching of LAW & ORDER SVU, Season 8, Episode 8, Cage. As you know from our viewing record, Anthony is a HUGE Law & Order fan.

The show in question was great, the acting wonderful and compelling, The story as you know is about two cute 8 year old foster kids fresh from disrupted adoption placements. One who who stabs Detective Stabler with a pen in the chest, and the other who sets fire to Detective Beck’s house to commit a murder/suicide so that she could be with Beck forever.

Unfortunately, the show was so good it caused Anthony to fall into a catatonic state, he was found hours later, with the remote in his hand, drooling on the bedroom floor in a fetal position shaking uncontrollably (well… not really).

You see, we are in the process of trying to be matched with a child for adoption. So this show hit home and punched all the fear buttons in Anthony’s head. Stephen Colbert would be proud as this episode kept the fear alive.

Anthony’s many expensive and highly sought after imaginary Doctors feel it would be best if he did not have access to watch anything about ultra-violent murdering adoptees who come from broken foster homes were the children are kept in cages and suffocated and then who later try to kill their adoptive parents.

So please remove any shows dealing with adoption from our instant viewing options, except if it’s a Disney movie.  Because as we all know all Disney movies are about some form of adoption (no really, think about it).

Thank you,

The DeSoren Family

PS, Please add Star Cops, Leverage and I Claudius to instant viewing…. Thank you.

One visit, one award & two trips

Fall has arrived and we are past our 1 year point on our home study. That anniversary is not marked by happy thoughts. In less then one year we will have to have a whole new one written for us. It’s frustrating it’s hard not to feel a bit of hopelessness. The whole process has started to feel like we have been packing the car for a great road trip for 2 years and can’t seem to back out of the driveway. But we keep trying to focus on the positives. Like  how amazing that road trip is going to be and how great our new caseworker has turned out to be.

But the big family news was Joshua’s mother stopping by for a one day quick visit as she traveled north into Washington. It caused a great flurry of activity in our house. We spent all day Saturday cleaning an prepping the house, Sam even cleaned his room! We aired out the future kido’s room, washed the sheets and made it a bit more adult with some nice fresh flowers. We always like it with family visits. (Yes Kristian, that is a hint)

Sunday morning Joshua drove out to the airport and picked up mom while Anthony cooked breakfast. German pancakes with homestyle potatoes. We spend the day chatting and ended the day with a nice homemade dinner (Anthony’s cheese manicotti and Anthony’s Grandmothers rassberry marshmallow dessert- YUMMY!). On Monday Joshua and Sam took mom to breakfast at one of our favorite breakfast spots. It was great visit and a prequel for our upcoming trip to Phoenix.

The following weekend Anthony attended Portland’s Coronation to watch our good friend Scott step-down as Portland’s Emperor and to help celebrate the Lovely Suzanne’s 10 year as a Rose Empress. During the Queen Mother of the America’s address, Anthony was called to the stage and bestowed the honorary title of Speaker Emeritus of the ICC Parliament for his work in helping with the founding of the International Court Systems Parliament and his for his service as it’s first Speaker of the House.

We have two fun trips currently planned coming up soon. For Thanksgiving all three of us (Anthony, Joshua & Sam) are flying down to Phoenix and then staying over for Joshua’s parents 30th wedding anniversary party.  It’s going to be a huge family get together so expect a long post and lots of photos from that upcoming adventure.

Then a week after we get back from Phoenix the two of us are flying back east to visit the mouse. Thanks to some great deals from Disney we have upgraded to deluxe dinning and have several great dinners planned at our favorite restaurants. We did downgrade to a value hotel the All Star Movies Resort to save some money, so we are sure will have some thoughts on that as well to post. We scooped up tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, have Candle light processional tickets and are planning a 2 day side trip to Universal studios to visit the new Harry Potter land.  It’s going to be a very Christmasy trip.

GOBSMACKED

Gobsmacked: A wonderful british word meaning utterly astounded, completely dumbfounded,  shocked, being totally speechless, unable to think of anything to say.  In short a completely and utterly the perfect word to describe our moment of utter panic.

Two weeks ago we got a ebullition from one of the adoption photolistings we use to keep an eye out for potential kidos. But the profile was of a kido who lives in Washington. When we started our journey with our adoption agency, we decided to keep our search confined to Oregon only. But over the course of the year, the pool of available kidos has seemed to noticeably shrink. So we E-Mailed our caseworker to get her thoughts on the matter. We liked the look of this kido and wanted to know if perhaps now was the right time to expand our search into Washington as well.

Last Mondaywe got a long E-Mail response from our caseworker. She agreed that we should expand to look in Washington, and she gave us the 411 on how to do that correctly. Which is great, as we had just found another kido online from Washington that we like.

She also let us know that Oregon has changed the way they do adoption committees and we can now add a personal 1 page cover letter addressed directly to the caseworker from us that will be sent with our homestudy. There were more changes as well as how the meetings run and who approves us. But then the shoe dropped. She told us that she was being reassigned and we would be getting a new caseworker.

A new caseworker, just saying it makes our tummies do a loopy loop. Our current caseworker wrote our home study, has had over a year to get to know us. Not to sound corny, but  she has been there from the beginning.  Our caseworker is the person who champions us to the adoption committee and to the kido’s caseworker. Now we have someone who doesn’t even know us. Changing caseworkers is a scary concept and a even more scary reality. Some pretty crazy doubts started floating around in our heads.

So yesterday we both got off work early and headed down to Boys and Girls to meet our new caseworker. The meeting with was with both our old and new caseworker. In fact our old caseworker ran the meeting and did most of the talking.

She did a small recap on our first committee that we were sent to and then talked about the changes the Oregon adoption system is going through. The 3 panel committee is now gone and has been replaced by a much larger voting pool including the child’s caseworker & lawyer. The 2nd big change is if the kido is young enough and is has low special needs then they might not even call a committee. The caseworker just picks the family she feels is best. It’s all really new so don’t quote us as we most likely just said it wrong, we got the 10 minute version of a much bigger story. As we learn more we will post more.

We had the chance to look in the big adoption profile books and only found one kido to add to our list (maybe, it was an old profile). One of the things we were concerned  we did talk about to both of our caseworkers about was the lack of kidos to match with.  But it seems the pool of kids is not smaller but the pool of waiting families is getting larger and larger. Which is not so good for us, but good for the kidos looking for families. We did talk more about looking into Washington as a resource.

Our new caseworker seems nice,  she is going to stop by our house and do a home visit to get to know us and our world a little better. So we will have more to report on later as we all get to know each other better.  Our initial impressions are very positive and we look forward to working with her.

After the meeting we drove home the back way and had dinner at the old spaghetti factory for a large infusion of carbs and cheese.


Summer Jamtastic!

Over the winter and cold spring we have eaten every jar of jam in our pantry. Correction: Sam has eaten every jar of jam in our pantry. It seems he lives on jam, nutella and potato bread. So this year we have made a concerted effort to have enough jam to meet Sam’s addiction, any future kidos needs and have enough to give as Christmas presents.

Anthony did a web search and found a place called Rowell Brothers U-Pick. It’s way out down Scholls Ferry road and across the urban growth boundary. So for the past 2 months, every other weekend, we have been driving over to the westside of town and picking like mad. Blueberries 99¢ a pound and all other berries $1.25 a pound.

We now have a HUGE pile of canned goodness. We have: Strawberry jam, Loganberry jam, Blueberry jam, Raspberry jam, Marionberry jam, Apricot jam, Blackberry jam & Boysenberry jam. Anthony also made 3 fun jams this year: Watermelon jelly, Jalapeno jelly and a super hot Habanero jelly.

Not only does this serve to quench Sam’s addiction, making the jam has been a really fun family project. Every member of the family has helped in one way or another. For example; in our most resent last batch we tried to make jalapeno jelly, which we did succeed in. Both of us were working in tandem when Anthony looked down at his foot and noticed it had turned green. Seems when we opened the green food coloring some dried crusty’s dropped on the wood floor unnoticed by us at the time.

As we worked and walked around the kitchen in our bare feet we smeared that tiny amount of green dried crusty all over the floor and all over the bottoms of our feet. So before we could end the day, we had to do a super clean of the kitchen floor. Then and only then were we able to sit back relax and kick up our incredible hulk feet.

Berry season is finally over for us…. but we still have 2 buckets of blueberries to eat/cook/jam. We also have a request from Anthony’s boss for some homemade orange marmalade. But the next big cooking adventure should be apples. Anthony found his grandmothers recipe for the applesauce he was raised on, so we will be picking apples soon.

Our next big travel adventure is a thanksgiving trip to Phoenix. The whole Sorensen clan is gathering for thanksgiving and to celebrate Joshua’s parents 30th wedding anniversary. So we are taking the whole week off and are flying down and perhaps do a road trip to the Grand Canyon.

We booked our travel via Expeida, probably for the last time ever. Reason one Anthony is going to try and sell Disney travel as a part time thing so he will be booking with commissions for our future trips. Second Expedia totally screwed up our finances. They charged us for 3 trips, yet did not book or ticket anything. Joshua had to call the bank twice and Expedia twice to get the whole mess fixed. So Expedia is now dead to us.

The adoption front has gotten very quiet. We recently had to resubmit our financials and our fingerprints for our yearly update. We all had to get fingerprinted again. This time we did not go to Boys and Girls to have it done, but to a passport/fingerprinting place downtown. So funny to watch this little russian lady with a heavy accent try and take Sam’s fingerprints!

But other then that activity, all is quiet on the western front. Very few kido profiles are even available to review or to match with. We still have a few home study’s out a few kidos that we have not heard back from yet. Heres hoping no news is good news!

Father’s of the Bride

One of the first “officialish” questions we were asked when we started our adoption journey was what type of a child we were looking to adopt. We were asked this by the caseworker who ran the very first intro class we attended. She walked the room asked everyone in the room the same question. Mostly to weed out those who were not looking for kidos that fell into the special needs program (like healthy babies) so she could route them to the proper classes and programs. But that question keeps being asked of you over and over throughout the process until you get to committee and then the question changes to “Why this child?” and you are completely dumbfounded again.

When we were asked back then on day one we answered “We want a boy aged 4-8”, her reply was “Great! We have lots of those…” (this of course did not prove to be true). Back then I don’t think we could really answer the why yet. Our pat answer to why was a comic retort. We simply said we wanted to skip the diaper stage.But along the way we have learned more about ourselves and can now better answer the why.

For us there are several reasons why we want to adopt a little boy (or boys).  Some as simple and basic as the primal male need to have son. There is also more complicated and more noble reasons like the love we have found interacting and reaching for that teachable moment with kids of that age. And lastly the simple honest reasons that we are both still little boys ourselves. But, a new mind numbing  and wallet exploding reason to only adopt a boy came crashing into our world this weekend.

One of the cable tv stations was doing an afternoon of bride shows. Normally Joshua refuses to watch those types of shows as Anthony loves to watch and laugh at the Bridezillas. But this time the shows were not of out of control brides but of clueless brides getting surprise wedding makeovers. So both of us sat on the sofa and watched several episodes while playing on our iPads.

After the first episode, both of our inner diva’s came out and we were actively commenting on the poor dress choices, nasty colors, pig bridesmaids, ect. But the pinnacle moment came when one of the bride’s chose a tiara to wear and we both cried out in unison, “That’s not a tiara, that’s a headband!”

Later in the day after expressing our very vocal opinions over a $10k flower choice that we felt was just simply not enough, a slow and scary realization came to us both, that we would be bankrupted from the million dollar wedding that we would force upon our poor daughter.

Going to Committee – Part 2

“Please wait outside. The council will now meet in secret, debate your personality flaws, and come to a final decision.” Hairspray

Stress, nervousness and that sinking feeling you get in your tummy. Monday morning was a very emotional morning. The committee meeting was set for 1:00pm. Just to recap, we are not allowed to attend the meeting, only our caseworker. So we stupidly went to work and tried to function like it was a NORMAL day, which is was not. If there is a next time, we are taking the day off.

Here is a discription of how the committee process works, shamelessly stolen from www.afamilyforeverychild.org

The committee consists of three members who are usually DHS caseworkers, retired caseworkers, or social workers experienced in the adoption field.  The committee meets for three hours, usually 9-Noon or 1-4 p.m.  Occasionally it lasts longer, but not often.

Committee starts with a presentation of the child by the CW.  Sometimes the child’s foster parent, therapist, court appointed special advocate (CASA), or attorney, is also present and invited to tell about the child as well.  The CW usually brings pictures, or the child’s Life Book, so the committee can view photos.  The goal is for the committee to have a thorough understanding of the child’s identity, personality, and special needs.  The committee members may have questions during this time about the child based on what they hear, read, or otherwise observe.

 

Once the child has been presented, any representatives for the child, except the CW, are dismissed and the AWs for the families each have a turn telling the committee about the family they represent.  Again, the committee members may have questions for the AW based on what they hear or what they have read in the family’s home study.

The committee members then remark on or list the strengths they heard or read about each family and the concerns they have about each family.  Then they vote.  If the two junior members each vote for a different family, the chair must break the tie with a vote for one of those two families so that we leave committee with a decision.  We nearly always leave committee with a decision about who will adopt the child.

When committee ends, the families receive a call informing them whether or not they were selected by the committee.”

We got the call from our caseworker at 4:45pm, Anthony took the call on the cellphone as he was stepping on to the MAX.

The results, Second place. The committee liked us and it was a tough call. But they decided to place the kido with the other family due to our age and because we lived in Portland which would mean the kido would have a bigger change to deal with (new doctors, daycare, school, ect…). The other family lived close to where the kido was currently living.

We did get picked as the back up family. Which is like being the runner up at the Miss Americia contest…. if Miss American can not fulfill her duties… yadda yadda. If the other family backs out before they do the placement we would become the primary family. But at this stage it is very very very rare for the primary family to back out.

So we are back to square one. The whole event was emotionally like packing your bags, flying to Disneyland, walking up the front gate, getting your ticket out to get scanned and instantly being transported by some sort of super science fiction transporter device back to your desk at work and there is a large pile of nasty work to be done.

We both wanted an out for dinner and headed right to our own comfort foods. Anthony got taco bell, Josh had Spam and eggs..