Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good questions to ask your adopted child's foster parents?

Now here is a great post, one that I did not think of until we got back to the United States. In Poland, most of the orphaned children are in foster care or in an orphanage. I wished we had these typed up to ask the foster parents because with all of the excitement of meeting your child(ren), you will forget to do the important stuff, like asking questions about your child to the people who had been caring for them.

Here is a list of questions that we were commonly asked by doctors, nurses, and us, as parents, that I wished we had known a little more about:
  • How does he or she do in school? Does he like school?
  • Is the child in school? If not, why?
  • What's their daily activities/schedule/routines?
  • Do they have any close friends?
  • What is his or her favorite thing to do?
  • Do you have his or her medical blue book? (Everyone is Poland has one. This blue book documents every hospital, doctor visit, immunization, etc...) If no blue book, do you have their immunization record?
  • Have they ever been to the dentist? Pediatrician for a check up?
  • What is going to the doctor like? Scary? Not so scary?
  • What is the relationship like between the foster siblings and your child?
  • Is he or she excited about being adopted?
  • How long has he or she known about being adopted?
  • Do you know anything about the birth parents?
  • Do you know of any prenatal history?
  • What is his or her favorite foods? How is their eating?
  • What is their favorite toys or games or movies?
  • How is his or her sleeping?
  • Can I look in his or her room? 
  • Can I take pictures of their room? Of the foster parents? Foster siblings?
  • What is it like parenting this child?
  • What's the child's personality (if older child)? 
  • What does the child struggle with (school, homework, friends, eating, etc...)?
  • What forms of discipline do you use? What works?
  • Can we have your address to send updates on this child?
  • How does the child act when he or she is angry? (hits, cries, destructive, nothing)
  • Any behavior concerns that we should be aware of?
  • Does the child have any special needs? (Attending therapies?)
  • How does the child interact with his/her foster sibling or others (at school, in the home, neighborhood)?
  • What makes the child happy?
  • What makes the child unhappy?
  • Will the child fall asleep in your arms?
  • Does the child like to be held?
  • Does the child have any special fears? (Smalls was terrified of red eyes!)
  • Any known abuse? If so, how was the child abused?
  • Does he or she like to be bathed?
  • Is he potty trained? For how long?
  • Has the child bonded with a particular caretaker? If so, what is that relationship like?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Do you have a great question that is not on the list? Please post your questions in the comment section below. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why don't you talk (frequently) about your daughter on your blog? Can you post some pictures of her?

These are great questions. I know that it can be frustrating to read a great story in a book only to find out that the last 10 pages are missing and you are left to wonder how it ended. Well my blog is kind of like that, except that you get to ask the author all the questions you may have.

Why do you not talk about your daughter on your blog?

Before we adopted our daughter, we decided to not post any information about her-not even pictures. We have many reasons for this decision. Because of the digital age that we live in, we thought it best to protect her privacy as much as we can. Our daughter's story is just that-her story. We decided to not publicly share details of her story with other people we do not trust. We want her to decide to when to share her story to the public. We don't mind answering general questions about her (like what's it like to adopt an older child, was it hard to communicate to her, what was her living situation like in Poland, etc...). And we hope to post some of these questions on our FAQ page. If you have questions regarding our daughter or adopting (internationally, older child, from Poland, etc...), please email me or leave a comment with your email address and I would love answer any questions that you may have. We do want to be a resource for those considering adopting older children. We have a huge heart for them and would like to share it with you.

Can you post some pictures of her?

Unfortunately no. We want to protect the privacy of our daughter as much as we can. We are unsure of the digital future that will hold for our daughter. We do not know the future of our daughter and we do not want to jeopardize any opportunities, employment, etc... because we posted about her issues, disabilities, and what day to day life is like with her. For the most part she is a normal adopted child who actually looks like her mom and dad.

If you do have any questions about her or all of the above please email me at  sarai.barnett at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What did you wear to adoption court (in Poland)?

Great question! We didn't know either until we were in court. We heard of stories of women only wearing skirts or dresses and panty hose, don't cross your legs ladies!, and other random cultural do's and don'ts.

Well, I am so glad to say that most of what we heard was not true about court. Wes wore a suit and I wore dress pants, button-up shirt, and a blazer (business suit). We did not choose loud colors--muted greys and blacks. The judges and the prosecutor even wore dress pants and crossed their legs. Make sure you pick something comfortable to wear because you never know how long court might be, except don't wear jeans and a t-shirt-they may not take you seriously.

Let's talk about shoes.

Girls, please do not wear heels. Your feet will hate you for the rest of your life. Poland's side walks and roads are made of cobblestone. Click here for a picture. In addition to the cobblestone, you will also stand in front of the judges during court while they ask you questions. I don't know exactly how long they will make you stand in front of court (it was 2 1/2 hours for us), but let's play it safe. Wear ballet flats or comfortable, but nice loafers.

Wes wore his black dress shoes with his suit. Guys, are always so easy to dress!

I did not wear loud jewelry in court. I chose simple earrings and my wedding band. That's it. I chose to be simple and comfortable.

I would not recommend wearing jeans, even dark wash. Poland is a traditional country and you want to look professional because, after all, you are asking to take one of their children to another country to live for forever.

Our translators were very pleased that we chose to wear business suits for court. We looked very professional and we were also as comfortable as we could be.

After court, I immediately changed into my t-shirt, jeans and Toms for the long, 6 hour car ride home.

My Little Black Notebook (that saved my brain)

One thing that I am so glad that I brought with me to Poland is a notebook. I know it sounds so simple but it literally saved my brain and gave me piece of mind during our in country stay.  I used this notebook almost every day while we were in Poland.

Let me explain about this amazing notebook. Before we left I took an old notebook and started taping and writing down all kinds of information I thought we would need while in country-you just never know if you will have internet access 24/7. Some of the information included U.S. Embassy contact information, important phone numbers of people in Poland, addresses of where we were staying, and other information while in country that I needed to remember, but I knew I would forget. A full list of what we put in our notebook is down below.  If someone told me to remember this alarm code or a phone number, I wrote it down and forgot all about it until I needed it. I know this sounds kind of silly but this notebook let my mind worry about other things, i.e. our adopted child. And all of our important information was in one place and not on bunches of pieces of paper that we scrambled around to find to write that important something on.

If you are planning to adopt overseas, I would highly recommend you to invest in a Composition notebook (the ones that have the metric conversion charts in the back). You can find one at the dollar store or at Walmart for a $1 or so. The Composition notebooks can easily fit into a large purse or a backpack. We printed out most of our information and taped it to the pages of the notebook.

Here is a list of what we put in our notebook:
(You can click on some of the items to find links.)

Before we left for our trip:

While we were in country:
  • Addresses of where we were staying
  • Alarm codes for our apt and apt building
  • Addresses of people we want to stay in contact with in the future
  • Phone numbers of adoption facilitators
  • Names of the local adoption coordinator in our child’s region, the Judge, and other important people (foreign names are harder to remember, especially if you meet a lot of important people)
  • The names of the stuffed animals that our adopted child has (once again, foreign names are harder to remember)
  • Details of our trip that we want to remember and show our adopted child one day

During our trip we recorded fun things we did, special places we visited (taped ticket stubs, etc...) and wrote down memories of what happened that we want our daughter to know when she is older. It became a mini scrap book by the end of our trip. I hope to tape some pictures on the remaining pages with captions in the next coming months.

And guess what? Our mini scrap book only cost a $1! Can't beat that. I had originally envisioned getting a really nice scrap book and making it really pretty for her, but this is a much easier and cheaper way of doing it. I don't have to spend hours on end later-on trying to make it. Yea, another win! win! win!

Having this notebook was a great idea!