Saturday, March 14, 2009

Marilena...

This one is uploaded especially for you... But I hope all the other Pip fans out there like it.

Video of my boy "acting along" the Elephant Patrol scene from the Jungle Book. Make sure you watch all of it for a special sing along session in the end... And keep an eye on the telly screen. See how he sticks his nose in the air just like the elephants do? Hilarious...


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Saturday, March 07, 2009

So now what?

Several people have asked what happens now that we are approved, so I thought I'd write a post about it. The short answer is "an awful lot of waiting."
The long answer is this:
We are approved to adopt a girl with Down's Syndrome, who is developmentally younger than Philip (this doesn't necessarily mean that she won't be older than him in years.)We don't have a child identified yet; so our Social Worker will take our details and put them on a database that has on it the details of most PAs (Prospective Adopters,) and available children. In theory, this database matches up adopters and children that have the same criteria, and emails the adopters' details to the child's social worker. In practice, this only happens if the social workers have put the child's details on the database, and some LAs (Local Authorities)might not bother to do that if they think they'll be able to place the child in their region reasonably easily. Our Social Worker will also keep an eye out for children that match what we're looking for... Word travels fast.

Any time that we become aware of a child that fits our description, we would contact the child's social worker to express our interest. Most of the time, the child's social worker will probably turn us down; we might not fit exactly what they're looking for, or they might have had interest from other families that they like better. This has already happened with two little girls that we've enquired about in the couple of months leading to Panel. So this stage can take many months.

At some point, hopefully, we will express interest in a child and her social worker will think we have potential. In that case, the following course of events will take place (and the process might fall apart at any one of these stages:)

1. We will send our Home Study to the child's social worker, and they will send us her CPR (Child Permanence Report.) This is the child's equivalent to a home study, it's as thick as a book, and it has in it as much information as is available about this child.

2. If, after reading the respective documents, both us and the child's social worker are still interested, they will arrange to come down and visit us in person. Our social worker must be present for this (and any other) stage, so that might cause delays in finding a date that is good for everyone.

3. After visiting us, the child's social worker will return to the LA. LAs usually want to have "looked at" at least 2-3 prospective adopters before they make a decision, so we will probably have to sit around and wait some more.

4. Eventually, after they have visited everyone they want to visit, the child's LA will have an internal meeting, to decide which prospective adopter they prefer for this child; The "successful applicant" will then be notified.

5. If we were to be the ones chosen at stage4, we would then have to go to Matching Panel. This is similar to Approval Panel, that we've just gone through. Our Home Study, along with the CPR form for the child, will b sent to a group of Panel members -some from the LA and some independent members (adoptive parents, adoptees, medical advisers, educational psychologists etc.) The paperwork must be available to the panel members at the very least 2 weeks before Panel, so that they have time to read it; During Panel, it will be decided if we are matched with this child or not.

6. If we end up being matched, we would then arrange to go and visit our child. The LA will pay our travel costs, and we will stay at a hotel or B&B close to her home... We will spend 1-2 weeks there, visiting daily and getting to know her. After that, we will come home, and a few days later, so will she :)

All of the above, from first identifying the child to going through Matching Panel, can take a good few months. From what I've heard, it's usually 4-5 months... The most I've heard it taking is 8 months, the least is 3 months. A looooot of waiting folks.

The gist of it is that it can easily take another 9-12 months before Sparky comes home. It might be less, but it will certainly be a while. After going through the excitement of Panel, I'm trying to digest this new information now... And I hate waiting :(

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Pox on this Child! A Child on this Pox!

I hate Chickenpox. I am a nice person, I always try to see the other party's point of view and Chickenpox has a right to live too (and run rampant on my children's bodies), but I officially hate its spotty little guts. I thought it couldn't possibly be any worse than Matilda... Oh how wrong I was. Poor Philip has it bad, and he has it especially bad on his dangly bits. All his butt and testicles are covered with it... His poor little winkie looks seriously gross. He has slept a total of maybe 2 hours last night, and proceeded to cry and scream the rest of the time. He lies on his back, with his legs in the air (think missionary position) and keeps saying "Bomp... Change nappy!" And screams. Now I'm not one to shy away from medicine, and he is currently taking a mouthwatering combination of them, one of which was prescribed today. We took Philip to the Surgery and exposed them to the crying until they agreed to give us the drugs (-don't flame me, we made an appointment beforehand).
Apparently, after the next 24 hours the worst should be over (one way or another...MWAHAHAHAHA!)

Incidentally, here is an exchange that took place between Matilda and Nanny yesterday:

Matilda: Nanny, let's pretend we are germs. What kind of germ do you want to be?
Nanny: Ummm... I'll be a good germ.
Matilda: Oh ok then, you can be an antibody.

I think we've been sick a bit too long around here!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Life...The Reckoning

Tomorrow was Today; and what a day today was! You'll remember the worry about whether Philip would develop chickenpox in time for our Panel meeting, right? Trying to cover all eventualities, we had arranged "Babysitter A" who would look after Matilda and Philip today, but would take them to a creche with her, and "Babysitter B," who had kindly offered to look after the kids if Philip got poxed.

I spent the past week frantically checking Philip for spots every time I took his clothes off. All clear. Until... Yesterday, at about 4 in the afternoon. Yes, Philip, demonstrating again the gift for perfect timing that became apparent on the day he was born, got his first spots 16 hours before we had to drive off for our Panel meeting. No matter, that's why we had Plan B.

As soon as I saw the Mark of the Pox, I called Lady B; "Are you still OK to look after Philip and Matilda?" No, as it turned out, because of a very serious emergency in her own family that only happened a couple of days ago, she wasn't. One very frantic and very apologetic phone call to Peter's parents later, Bat-Nanny and Super-PopPop were set to drive for 4 hours both ways, arrive on our doorstep this morning, and save the day.

So we drove off, as calmly as we could. When we were 15 minutes away from our destination, and 30 minutes away from our Meeting (capitalized intentionally,) we got a phone call from our social worker. "We have a problem; a big one."

As part of the home study, we had to have criminal background checks. Mine came from Greece, via the Consulate in London. It arrived back in early September, and I handed it to the social worker, who filed it away and incorporated it to our home study. Easy-peasy, no problem at all. Until... Yesterday evening, yes, you guessed it, at about 4 in the afternoon, when the Agency's legal advisor realized that the document should have arrived directly to them, not to me. This meant that, legally, they could not accept it, because it might have been tampered with (by criminal mastermind, yours truly.) More frantic phone calls to the Greek Consulate, to see if they could fax another copy. This is at 9:45, our meeting is at 10:00. If no contact with the Consul is made, we can not go to Panel, and have to come back in April. Miraculously, the Consul answered the phone himself, and was extremely helpful and faxed another copy of my criminal background check over within 15 minutes. (I had no idea about this, but they are supposed to keep copies of everything for "transparency" reasons, and they actually do! I will never ever diss Greek social services again, for at least...ummm...the next couple of months.)

After that, we were able to go to Panel. 30 minutes and 3-4 questions later, it was over.

We are approved. The search for #3, hereto forth known as "Sparky," is started.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of our lives

Tomorrow.... is the day that we take our home study and bring it in front of a panel of experts.

Tomorrow... is the day that the past 12 months have been leading up to.

Tomorrow... a dozen people that have never met us before will decide if we will make good parents to a little girl with Down's Syndrome.

Tomorrow... we will have 15 minutes to explain to people "Why" and "How."

Tomorrow... a little girl whose face we still can't picture might be one step closer to having a mum and a dad and a brother and a sister.

Tomorrow... we finally get to open the door, or discover it's locked.

Please think of us tomorrow.

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(Photograph is of a baby girl available through Reece's Rainbow. If you live in the US and are interested in adopting Leah, please contact Andrea, the director of RR.)