Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Tree...Last Year


So this holiday season is a bust for me. I tried to put up a tree but I didn't, I thought who was going to enjoy it besides me so I decided to look at my pictures from last year instead (never mind it is sideways, obviously I don't have the right software on my computer to turn my tree right side up so just turn your head...I'll work on that for next time). If you can't tell I call this tree my nature tree. It has feathers, birds, cones and butterflys on it. I'm not a conventional type of a person, I bet you didn't know that about me...heehee. I plan on having two trees when Baby I comes home, one for big people (Mommy) and one for little people (Baby I). She can decorate it in whatever theme she wants each year...I want her to be creative and think out of the box.
Also, my stove has died (Merry Christmas to me), so I'm spending the day looking at Best Buy picking out a new stove and watching Christmas movies cooking in my crockpot. Can 2008 hurry up and get here already! At least I'll have a fabulous new stove. YIKES You know I'll want the other appliances to match considering the others are on their last legs, old and won't match!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fingerprints and Adoption Update

I finally got my fingerprints back from the FBI and guess what? I'm not a criminal! But I am confused. I didn't have to go in for any sort of meeting or anything like other people did. Maybe it's because I live in DC. So now what? I guess I'll just send this on to my social worker and maybe I can finally get my home study completed! LOL

Although I still haven't finished all of my online adoption training. I completed 30 hours of training through DC Children and Family Services last year, isn't that good for something? I'm trying to figure that out. Can't I even get 2 credits? Every little penny counts over here. I guess I could take my Ethiopia courses though. I'll do that over Christmas since I'm bahhumbug. My goal is to get my home study finally completed, written up and in my hands by the end of January! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

When Adoption Goes Wrong

I don't know about you, but I am so incredibly tired of some "friend" who just was "thinking about me when they read an article and thought they would share it with me. They of course had only my best interest in mind when they sent the article. They want me of course to keep an open mind when thinking about adoption and ESPECIALLY about international adoption! I mean no telling what these "kids" could have been put through. I wouldn't want to bring the trash into my home now would I. I could adopt a child that ends up with a heart problem on the easy side or say ends up beating up the neighbors kids for the fun of it, or gives the teachers problems on a daily basis (I'm pretty sure all of those descriptions sounds like me when I was a kid) or the child could end up with something a little more serious but the point is you never know. Adoption or birth it's all a crap shoot so I'm so tired of my "well-meaning friends" sending me freaking emails about adoptions gone bad! WTF!? WTF!? And one more time for good measure...WTF!??????

Here is the latest email and my response (btw, he hasn't responded in a day, maybe he could tell I was a tad pissed off and decided to leave it alone). I'm not even going to comment on the article in Newsweek because I'm over the poor adoptive families crap...it also could be my bahhumbug mood but whatever...I'm tired of people looking at us like poor us for having to adopt!

The Conversation:

Tami: I'm sure you'll have a different experience as your child will be an infant.But I thought of you when I saw this article.

P: Happy Holidays to you also. You always share such lovely and inspiring insights with me, I appreciate the support. How about this title: When Childbirth Goes Wrong. Most Americans who have children find joy. But others aren’t prepared for the risks – and may find themselves overwhelmed… Not much difference is it?

When Adoption Goes Wrong
Most Americans who adopt children from other countries find joy. But others aren't prepared for the risks—and may find themselves overwhelmed.
By Pat Wingert
NEWSWEEK
Updated: 3:16 PM ET Dec 8, 2007
Peggy Hilt wanted to be a good mother. But day after day, she got out of bed feeling like a failure. No matter what she tried, she couldn't connect with Nina, the 2-year old girl she'd adopted from Russia as an infant. The preschooler pulled away whenever Hilt tried to hug or kiss her. Nina was physically aggressive with her 4-year-old sister, who had been adopted from Ukraine, and had violent tantrums. Whenever Hilt wasn't watching, she destroyed the family's furniture and possessions. "Every day with Nina had become a struggle," she recalls now.
As the girl grew older, things got worse. Hilt fell into a deep depression. She started drinking heavily, something she'd never done before. Ashamed, she hid her problem from everyone, including her husband.
On the morning of July 1, 2005, Hilt was packing for a family vacation, all the while downing one beer after another and growing increasingly aggravated and impatient with Nina's antics. "Everything she did just got to me," Hilt said. When Hilt caught her reaching into her diaper and smearing feces on the walls and furniture, "a year and a half of frustration came to a head," Hilt says. "I snapped. I felt this uncontrollable rage."
Then Hilt did something unthinkable. She grabbed Nina around the neck, shook her and then dropped her to the floor, where she kicked her repeatedly before dragging her up to her room, punching her as they went. "I had never hit a child before," she says. "I felt horrible and promised myself that this would never happen again." But it was too late for that. Nina woke up with a fever, and then started vomiting. The next day she stopped breathing. By the time the ambulance got the child to the hospital, she was dead.
Hilt is now serving a 19-year sentence for second-degree murder in a Virginia maximum-security prison. She and her husband divorced, and he is raising their other daughter. She realizes the horror of her crime and says she isn't looking for sympathy. "There is no punishment severe enough for what I did," she told NEWSWEEK in an interview at the prison.
Hilt's story is awful—and rare—but sadly it is not unique. Adopting a child from another country is usually a positive, enriching experience for both the child and the parent. Over the last 20 years, foreign adoption has become more popular, and Americans now adopt about 20,000 children from Guatemala, China, Russia and other nations each year. (In the last few years, as restrictions and red tape have increased in some countries, the number of overseas adoptions has begun to drop.) Longitudinal studies show that most of these kids do quite well, but in a small but significant number of cases, things go very badly. Since the early 1990s, the deaths of 14 Russian children killed by their adoptive parents have been documented. (That disclosure was partly responsible for Russia's decision in 2006 to suspend its intercountry adoption program while it underwent review.)
Cases like those are extreme, but clinicians who specialize in treating foreign orphans say they are seeing more parents who are overwhelmed by their adopted children's unexpected emotional and behavioral problems. And though reputable agencies try to warn parents of the risks, not all succeed. "In the past, agencies were a bit naive," says Chuck Johnson of the National Council For Adoption, which is responding to the problem with a massive education initiative. "Now we're urging them to give parents a more realistic message." Some parents struggle to find effective treatment for their kids. Others seek to give them up. Reports that a growing number of foreign adoptees were being turned over to the U.S. foster-care system recently prompted the Department of Health and Human Services to order its first national count: 81 children adopted overseas were relinquished to officials in 14 states in 2006.
Why do some adoptions go so wrong? Clearly, it's not the kids' fault. Their behavior is usually the result of trauma, mistreatment, malnutrition or institutionalization in their home countries—problems more common in places like Eastern Europe. But "the country of origin doesn't matter so much as the child's experience," says Dr. Dana Johnson, director of the University of Minnesota's International Adoption Clinic. Some are found to suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, mental illness or reactive attachment disorder, an inability to bond with a parent. Prospective families undergo an arduous screening process, including home visits, and specify how much disability they can handle. But even families who specifically request a "healthy" child sometimes go home with a troubled one. In some cases, the mismatch is inadvertent. But in others, orphanages or adoption agencies overseas—eager to find homes for difficult children in their care—mislead prospective parents or fail to disclose the full extent of a child's problems or personal history.
Emotional and even physical problems can be difficult to detect at the time of adoption, especially in infants, and often aren't diagnosed until months or years later. Hilt says that's what happened to her. She and her husband decided to adopt after being told she'd probably never conceive. After passing their agency's screening, they brought home their first daughter from Ukraine in 2001, and that went so well they decided to adopt two Russian sisters. But when they flew to Siberia to meet them in May 2003, they were told the sisters were no longer available. Instead, they were told, they could adopt Tatiana, a lively 18-month-old, and Nina, a quiet, withdrawn 9-month-old. They visited Tatiana every day for a week, but officials never let them see Nina again. "They said she had a bad cold," Hilt said. Nonetheless, they signed adoption papers for both girls. But when they returned to finalize the adoption in January 2004, they were told that only Nina was still available. The Hilts hesitated. They suspected a bait-and-switch, especially when officials insisted they sign papers testifying they'd spent many more hours with the baby than they had. "The whole process didn't feel right," Hilt said. "But we figured we could love any child. You convince yourself that everything will turn out OK."
But from the start, Nina "literally pushed me away," Hilt said. Over time, Hilt found herself resenting the little girl. "We'd been such a happy family, and then Nina came and everything changed," Hilt says. "I began to realize that we had made such a big mistake." (Tatyana Kharchendo, the doctor in charge of the Little Sun Child Home #1 in Irkutsk, where the Hilts adopted Nina, did not directly answer Hilt's charges, but insisted the child "was absolutely healthy and beautiful.")
No one is exonerating Hilt or others like her. But Joyce Sterkel, who runs the Ranch for Kids, a Montana boarding school for disturbed international adoptees, says she's come to see the parents as well as the kids as victims in these tragic cases. "It's a horrible thing, but I understand how some people end up killing these kids," she says. "They have no empathy, no affection, no love. My heart goes out to these parents because they don't know what to do."
When Sterkel, a nurse, first started working with international adoptees in the early '90s, she didn't see many deeply troubled children. But 10 years ago she adopted two Russian boys whose American parents had given up on them. One of them, a 14-year-old boy, had just been released from a juvenile-detention center after trying to poison his mother. Over time, Sterkel was approached so often about adopting other children that she decided to open her camp. Today it houses 25 to 30 kids from all over the country, and has a waiting list. The overwhelming majority are from Russia, Romania and Bulgaria, but she also has had children from South Korea and Colombia. Some were bullied or raped while institutionalized or were the children of prostitutes, drug addicts or alcoholics. "I have gotten calls from parents who say the child they adopted has killed the family dog, threatened to kill them, and no one will help them," she says.
Emotional, behavioral and physical problems are not unique to adopted children. Biological children can have the same range of issues. But adoptive parents often assume they know what they're getting into because they get the chance to meet their child in advance. That was the case when Kimble and Shellie Elmore of Los Angeles met a 10-year-old Russian child named Tania in 2005. The director of the orphanage proudly described her as an "angel."
But as soon as they took custody of their new daughter, her behavior changed dramatically. "She was completely out of control," Kimble says. Tania would scream for hours at a time, then fall into deep sullen silence. After signing Tania over to the Elmores, the Russian court handed them her file. They were stunned to find that she had a history of violence and had been transferred from one orphanage to another. They called their adoption agency back home, but were mistakenly told that there was nothing that could be done, that Tania was now their legal daughter. (The American Embassy could have helped, if they'd known.) Seeing no alternative, they boarded a plane and brought Tania back to California. By the end of the first week, she was admitted to a hospital psychiatric unit. She came home a few days later, but things grew worse. She tried to stab her father with a spike and attacked a police officer who came to the house in response to a 911 call.
Doctors diagnosed Tania with bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and attachment disorder, and suggested she be sent to Sterkel's camp. In the past year the Elmores have exhausted their savings and retirement funds trying to pay for private residential treatment. "We know she's just a child and we want what's best for her," says Kimble. "But we don't know how to help her. Adoption is supposed to be a touchy-feely thing surrounded with the glow of new parenthood. But no one says, 'What if the worst happens?' "
Psychologist Karyn Purvis of Texas Christian University, who has done extensive research on troubled adopted children, says many of these kids simply don't respond to stern lectures and timeouts. Lab workups of her patients often reveal extremely high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. "The children, for the most part, were in safe homes living with safe people," Purvis says, "but those cortisol levels told us that their children did not feel safe with them, even if they'd been living safely with them for years." Children like them are almost constantly in a hypervigilant state, she says. They don't let their guard down long enough to forge affectionate relationships.
Over the past several years Purvis has developed new methods to restore a sense of security and trust to traumatized kids. If a child becomes violent, for instance, Purvis often responds with a "basket hold." She cradles the kids firmly but gently in her lap, facing outward, with their arms crossed in front of their chests. She rocks and quietly soothes until they calm down, then asks them to look her in the eye and tell her what they want. Purvis's assistants have taken to calling her the "Child Whisperer."
Sometimes techniques like these result in dramatic turnarounds. The family of a 5-year-old adopted from Russia thought they had no choice but to seek psychiatric hospitalization after she threw her baby sister down the stairs. But after the parents adopted Purvis's methods, the little girl finally started talking about the serious abuse she'd experienced. The child's behavior changed markedly. But her mother "changed even more," Purvis says, "because now she has hope."
Purvis is quick to say that her techniques don't work with every child, and older kids can take much longer than younger ones. "They have to unlearn what they've learned," she said. The next step, she says, is for prospective adoptive parents to get more training before and after they adopt. "Very few agencies are training parents to deal with brain damage, sensory deprivation, aggression," Purvis says. "A lot of these parents are smitten with the hope that they'll make a difference in a child's life, but they need very practical tools. I consider myself very pro-adoption. But I'm also very pro informed adoption. "
Peggy Hilt wishes she'd heard this message years ago. "If I knew then what I know now," she says, "I would have gotten help for Nina and for me." The best she can hope for now, she says, is that her story will prompt others to seek that help before it's too late.
Warning Signs for Adoptive ParentsAdopted children often go through a period of transition and adjustment once arriving in the United States from another country, but sometimes problems persist, behavior worsens, or new problems arise with time. Acting out and defiance may be protective measures children take because of a history of abuse, neglect or maltreatment. Karyn Purvis, director of Texas Christian University's Institute of Child Development and an expert in the treatment of troubled adoptees, says parents may need to seek the counsel of a clinician who specializes in international adoption cases if their child consistently exhibits any of these behaviors:
Sexual acting out, like masturbating or inappropriate touching of others
Aggressive, bullying, violent behavior
Night terrors or sleep problems caused by fear
Behavioral melt-downs when parents are trying to get the child to do homework, or when there is lots of noise or activity
Resistance to any expression of affection, like kisses and hugs from family members, but approaches strangers indiscriminately
Explosive anger when confronted with relatively minor disappointments or delays
Insists on being in control at all times
Terrified of being alone, or the other extreme, insists on being left alone
Hoarding or stealing food

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is This The Future?

My mother sent me this video saying she thought of Baby I when she viewed it. I laughed and thought that I would share it with you all. This is what my mother expects her first grandchild's dance/gymnastics recital to be, it is too cute. I can see myself in the audience now...go I...go I...go. We would have been practicing those moves together at home...(most of them that are on the ground that is!)...thanks to my yoga and Pilates classes (thank you very much!).


video

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Perfect Holiday


Even in my bahhumbug mood I went to an early premiere of the movie The Perfect Holiday. It was wonderful! For that one evening even I had the Holiday Spirit. And ladies Morris Chestnut looks as good as ever! It is such a feel good movie. You will get some good laughs and your entire family will definitely enjoy it. These are definitely the types of family movies I was raised on and intend to take Baby I to (Sidebar- I love Christmas movies and my TIVO is full of them. My weekend will be spent watching as many of them as I can.) If you need a break this weekend while shopping check it out.

Synopsis (from Vidly...meaning, I didn't write this part): Nancy is a divorced mother of three who is so busy raising her children that she's forgotten to take care of herself as well. With Christmas fast approaching, she decides to take her kids to the mall to meet Santa Claus, not knowing that her youngest daughter Emily has sensed her mother's sadness and is determined to use her time with Santa to make her mom happy again. Just a few days prior, Emily heard her mom say that all she wanted for Christmas was a compliment from a man, so that's exactly what she tells Santa. Ironically, Santa, as it turns out, is an office supply salesman and struggling songwriter Benjamin, who ends up giving Nancy just what she wants for Christmas, and much, much more


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That's Good Journalism For Ya!


Once again, don't believe everything you read or...SEE. In 2004, the BBC network ran the AIDS documentary Guinea Pig Kids, which is about the treatment of a group of HIV-positive foster children in Harlem during which time they showed the picture to the left. The only problem was the picture was taken in Addis Ababa not in Harlem! GREAAATTTTT! Now, I’m not a journalist and I clearly use pictures that I don't take to convey my particular message but give me a break! Why do I do this? Well...I want my two readers to understand my point of view. I don’t want you two to get bored or to leave me, and then I would just be writing for myself. But guess what? I’m not a professional! Heck, if I got paid to do this shouldn’t I make sure that at least my pictures represented what I was talking about? For instance: If I was writing about HIV infants in Harlem shouldn’t they be babies in the US that were multi racial (Harlem= Black and Latino)? Ummmm…just a thought.
Now, I’m going out on a limb on this one, not that far though, but the man that wrote this thought: Harlem…Africa…no one will know the difference. Silly him! We are pretty quick over in these parts. We use istockphoto also! Well, I don’t have time to really dissect the article; I’ll let someone else do that if you so choose. Check out Slate Magazine for the scoop.

Monday, December 10, 2007

You Need A What?

Since I have been a lot obsessed with Baby I, it has been all about baby products over here. And I have come across some of the funniest and craziest products I have ever seen! Okay, too me at least. I know that as mothers and many new mothers (obsessed) by our precious children we "must have" all of the new gadgets but, some of the stuff that is out there just makes no sense at all. With that said, I thought it would be fun to share some of the silly things that we have come across in our baby/kid product hunting experience.

So, if Baby I has Monsters under her bed I can buy her a can of Monster Spray for $14.95 plus shipping and handling (of course). Whatever! I think I'll stick a label over my Mrs. Meyers Lavender scent cleaning spray which will have the same effect and is about $10 less expensive and I can clean my entire house!
What products have you come across that really don't make any sense? Tasha, you have a list full, give us one that you haven't listed already...if possible or you can give us your favorite.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Long Live McDonald's and Free Speech!


The beauty of living in the USA is free speech. If you don’t like what you hear, turn it off. If you don’t like what you see turn your head. If you don’t like what you read, close the book. Although, this is not always easy and even more difficult if you are married to that book. Unfortunately, in the USA we seem to have way too much time on our hands and pick way too many battles (I know I’ll get lots of comments about this one. Can’t wait!) and the latest one is against McDonald's again! Poor Mickey D’s…Chuckle, chuckle!

Now, I don’t eat the stuff because it makes my stomach hurt (unless it’s a salad or the occasional fries and I suffer through the stomachache) but, I know kids love it, as did I when I was a kid. So, Mickey D’s did a smart marketing move. Yes, they say they have a long-standing and rich heritage of supporting education and academic excellence… blah, blah, blah…it was marketing pure and simple. I’m a business woman and I’m not mad at them. The bottom-line is dollars and cents. All companies have community based programs and McDonald's is no different. Sure, they may care about the community but the bottom-line is they care also about shareholder value. To that end, they created a campaign with the Florida County School District where students received envelopes adorned with Ronald McDonald and received coupons for a free happy meal if they got good grades or attendance. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is demanding that McDonald's immediately stop the program! They said it’s advertising to the children and "This promotion takes in-school marketing to a new low," said Susan Linn, director of CCFC. "It bypasses parents and targets children directly with the message that doing well in school should be rewarded by a Happy Meal."

I mean come on people, who is the CCFC trying to fool…they know they take their kids to McDonald’s! It’s only a free Happy Meal. I personally try to stay away from the stuff but, when I have my niece or nephew screaming bloody murder in the back seat of my car and the only thing that will shut them up are those golden yellow arches…excuse me, a free happy meal coupon would come in handy! Maybe they are a little upset because their children don’t qualify for the good grades? I don’t get it…it’s a choice. You see McDonald’s on TV everyday, so it’s not like the kids don’t already know what McDonald’s is. It’s not like parents don’t frequent McDonald’s. If you don’t want to take them there then don’t. I think it’s a great incentive for kids to do good in school…it’s the little stuff, especially in a time when kids don’t get many incentives anymore. Maybe they haven’t seen how much of the budgets are cut or maybe they don’t even care or maybe that’s not the point, I’m pretty sure that’s not the point for them but for me I still don’t get it. I remember the incentives we used to get, paddles on the behind and hand if we didn’t shut up, corporal punishment was still in at my elementary school when I was a kid! Not joking, I’m from Cleveland! The occasional pizza parties, trips, ice cream and so on. Heck, I’m jealous they get McDonald's Happy Meals! I would support Baby I getting a Mickey D coupon although her Happy Meal would probably include a fruit salad or veggie burger or some healthier choice but hey she needs to dream of something why take her hopes away?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Buried in Work

I know that I haven't posted in a week but I've been buried in work (I hate it when that happens)! I have one more day of this craziness then I'll be back to my old self again. Not posting every day self but posting again! See you tomorrow.