Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Book that EVERY Adoptive Parent Needs

If you are adopting and you could only buy one book, get The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis.

Don't even bother checking it out from the Library, just buy it. It will be your go-to resource book for when your child is home. If you know someone that is adopting, buy it for them, unless they have a copy then don't buy it. Family and friends of adoptive families must read this as well. This book will help them to understand what the adoptive parents are dealing with and how to appropriately interact with the adoptive child.

Since being home with our daughter I have used this book hundreds of times. This book has helped our daughter connect with us and feel safe. Being home for almost 6 months now, she is now beginning to feel somewhat safe and starting to open up about her life before us. This book has given us a guide to reach out to our daughter and help her heal from her past experiences. This book is a must in the adoption community.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Interpreting Medical History Records, Psych and Educational Evaluations

After all the paperwork, apostilling, translating, and then waiting, we soon received lots of pictures of a 7 year old girl from Poland. She had brown hair and bright blue eyes. She was so beautiful in those pictures. A couple of days later, we received psych and education evaluations on this beautiful girl. We did not receive hardly any medical history information because she was there wasn't any. After reading those reports, which can make things a whole lot scarier, we were very skeptical of adopting this precious little girl. Is this too much for our family? How could any orphan be too much? Are the reports accurate? Do we have enough money to support her with everything she could possibly need? These questions and more flooded our minds. We didn't want to turn down someone who doesn't have a family-not her choice, but we do want to be able to provide everything she could possibly need.

In my undergrad, I have read dozens of education evaluation and with all of the training I received, I was still unsure about all of the information that we were given about this little girl. I talked with our future pediatricians and let them read all the information that we received. They gave us lots of encouragement and a list of potential problems we could face with this little girl. Armed with all this information, we ultimately had to get on our knees and ask Dad for guidance. We got our answer very quickly-yes, adopt her, it will be challenging but she has no one. Within 2 months, we were off to Poland to go get her.

A couple of weeks ago, I was researching about how to read international psych and educational evaluations and even international medical histories. I came across these websites (see below for the link). Some of the information is for adopted children from Russia, but you could use this as a guide for some Eastern European countries.

Children's of Alabama has a great International Adoption Clinic with lots of resources. They even have seminars for you to take, like how to prepare yourself for international adoption travel. You may have to pay for some of them, but it might be worth the knowledge that you will gain. They can even review your referral information and give you feed back that will help you make the tough decision to adopt a particular child or sibling set.

Blog followers and/or readers, do you have a good website or online article that can help future adoptive parents with interpreting international medical records, psych, or educational evals?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Adopting the Older Child and Sibling Groups

Here is another great article that I found browsing the web. I wish I read this right after we adopted our little girl. I now feel like a "normal adoptive family" who adopted an older child.

#1 on the list is something we struggle with a lot. Our little girl did not even want to be with us in the United States for a couple of months. I thought I was a terrible adoptive mom when I didn't feel love towards my adoptive child. And not to mention the "second thoughts". There have been many times I have thought "what have I done?" or "am I capable of raising an adoptive child?", or "did I make a mistake".

And I really like the "start chores as soon as your child gets home". I know that one has helped our daughter feel valuable and have a place in our family. Not to mention taking ownership in her new home.

If you are considering adopting an older child or a sibling group, this article will give you a great picture of what it's like-very much like.

For more adoption resources, click here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

I use to think people were crazy for making their homemade cleaning products. Why go through that much trouble when you can just buy it, especially if the homemade product does not do a good enough job like the store bought. Well that was 4 years ago and we were in a lot of debt and working a ton of hours to help pay it all off. About 2 years ago I started researching homemade cleaning products, just to see if they were cheaper to make and if they actually worked. I wanted to get my grocery budget super low and maximize our paychecks to help pay off our debt and save up for our adoption. To see other homemade products that we have discovered that are much cheaper than buying store-bought, click here.

I am slowly turning all of my household cleaning products to the homemade version of them. Dishwashing gel is a hard product to give up to the homemade version of it. I had a lot of concerns. Will it actually clean my dishes? Will there be lots of little grains at the top of my dishes? And most importantly, how hard it is to make? Because if it takes more than 5 minutes, I don’t think I could add another event to my daily routine, especially if it takes a long time to make. Personally, I am a huge fan of dishwashing gel. It smells really, really good, or at least the Great Value kind at Walmart. I like the orange scent the best. 

This week we ran out of that lovely orange scented, dishwashing gel. Well, I guess this is the right time to try some recipes since I really don’t have a lot of money left in our grocery budget for this month. After googling some recipes, I tried one out. I did have to go to the store and purchase 1 container of Lemishine, but the other ingredients I had on hand because I make my own laundry detergent.

 On a side note here, if you start making your own cleaning products you will probably use the same ingredients in most products that you make. Very rarely, I will have to go and purchase a specific ingredient. I have tons more cabinet space underneath the sink. 

I tried a super simple recipe (took 3 minutes and recipe below) and had to instantly try it out. I put all of my dirty dishes in the dishwasher-some, dishes I didn’t even rinse off because I wanted to know if this homemade stuff will actually work. I jam-packed the dishwasher super full, probably a little too full. Then I washed the dishes. To my surprise, it actually worked! Although, the dishes didn’t have that wonderful orange scent (it was a lemon scent from the Lemishine) and it wasn’t gel detergent, it was powder. I think I could live without that orange scent. I guess if I really wanted that, I could purchase orange essential oils and add a drop or two before I press start on the dishwasher. Essential oils would cost more money and would drive up the cost of this homemade dishwashing powder, so I think I will keep it out for now. And as far as the gel part goes, those recipes require a few additional steps and ingredients, thus making it more expensive and require more than 5 minutes to make. And another good part about this homemade version is that there was NO grains at the tops of my dishes, absolutely none! I am now sold on making my own homemade dishwashing detergent.

Dishwashing Powder Recipe
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Baking Soda (some recipes use Washing Soda, but Baking Soda is much cheaper and works just as great)
1 cup Lemishine

To be fair I used the store bought powder detergent to compare the cost. This comparison was a little harder to compare than other homemade products because I needed to weigh in weight not fluid ounces. And I don’t have a kitchen scale. I have given my best estimates down below (I probably over estimated on some).
Homemade: $1.41/5 cups
(Borax: $0.88, Baking Soda: $0.38, Lemishine: $0.15)

Store bought powder detergent (generic): $2.50/for about 5 cups

That’s $1.09 savings! And I use about 1 box a month. This is going to save me $13.08 each year on my grocery bill. Doesn’t seem like a lot of dough that we are saving, but you don’t get rich over night! And every bit of our savings will go to our adoption fund.

I am beginning to wonder how much all these homemade recipes are saving me per year? It has to be hundreds off my grocery bill!

I forgot to mention this earlier, but there is one con to making this homemade version. Because this recipe has Lemishine, the finished product may clump after a day or so of making the recipe. I personally don’t mind the clumping and can work around it, but if it's bothersome for you just add 1 tsp. to the dispenser along with the homemade powdered mix.

For more Homemade recipes that can help keep your grocery budget low, click here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What are some good games and toys to bring with us when we travel for adoption?

If you are adopting from Poland, as of 2014, you will have a 3 week bonding period with your child before court and then a 2 week appeal period after that. You will have a total of 5 weeks of just “hanging out” and being with your new family member.
Here is a list of some great toys or games to bring with you on your adoption trip. We brought some of these and it was very helpful for us during the bonding period. Some days we would just stay in our pajamas watch movies and play games. It was a great time for us to show our daughter how to play some basics games-that every child should know how to play.

Matching Games or Memory Cards
Barrel of Monkeys
Hungry Hippos
Go Fish
Old Maid

Browse the game section in Target or Walmart, look for games that can easily be taken out of the boxes, put in ziplock bags, and/or can lay flat in your suitcase. Remember: You will have to explain the directions to your child, who will not speak English, so pick some games that are easy to explain or demonstrate-not games like Monopoly or Risk). I would get simple games for ages 3 to 5.

Hidden Pictures activity book
Dot to Dot (with numbers, not alphabet) activity book
Coloring Books
Easy Picture activity books
Children’s Books for reading (Dr. Seuss books, simple, short books with lots of color)

Other Ideas for Activities
Paper Airplane book with construction paper
Friendship Bracelet Kits
Jewelry making kit (could be for boys and girls)
Water colors, Crayons, and Markers
Bubbles (Might be a suitcase risk. You can buy bubbles in Poland if you don’t want to chance it.)
Cookie Mixes (bring sprinkles or other cookie decorations to decorate)

Baby Dolls
Stuffed Animals
Lincoln Logs

Now, I am not advocating that you bring everything on this list, and who has the suitcase room for all of that. Just bring a couple from each category. You could almost always buy little toys or knick knacks while you are in Poland. They do have a Legos store and a Toy Rus in Warsaw, most every town we visited had a little toy store shop with lots of toys.

If you are looking for free ideas to do with your family, click here.

If you want to know what we packed in our suitcases, click here.

Do you have any other good ideas for toys or games to bring for adoption travel? What did you bring for your child that you are so glad that you brought?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

We finally got it!!

After much tribulation with the social security office, we finally got our daughter's social security number!! Took 2 1/2 months! Thank you everyone for your prayers and support.

If you know someone having trouble getting their adopted child's social number, please tell them to contact their senator.

To read about our issues with the social security office and how our senator helped us get our daughter's social, click on the links below.

Post #1

Post #2

Post #3

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Health Insurance Coverage for your Adopted Child

Once you arrive home from your adoption travels, you will still have TONS of paperwork to deal with. One of those pieces of paper is about adding your new addition to your insurance. Since I work at a doctor's office and working with insurance I have a tiny nugget of knowledge.

Individual Health Plan

If you have an individual health insurance plan, you can NOT add your newest addition to your policy. Unless it is during your enrollment period when you arrive home with your child. That is the only time you can add anyone to that particular plan. I can already hear the question "ok, so what do I do for health insurance for my newly adopted child?" Great question! Take out another individual plan for your child. Your child will be the subscriber on the policy. Now, this is where things can get complicated. Some insurance plans require that the subscriber has a social security number. And we both know that you just got home with your child and haven't even received the Certificate of Citizenship yet, which is needed to get a social security number. Our family was in this boat in November 2013 when we arrived home with our daughter. We called all sorts of health insurance plans to see if they required social security numbers. BCBS was one of the few that did not need a social security number. Or if you did not want to go that route, you could get a new individual health insurance plan for your whole family, but the rate may not be cheaper than taking out an individual policy just for your child.

If you have taken out an individual policy for your child, now you wait for your enrollment period for your policy. That is when you can add your adopted child to your individual policy and then drop your child's current individual policy.

Group Health Plan

If you have a group health insurance plan you should be able to add your newly adopted child to your policy without any fuss. The adoption, like giving birth to a newborn, is a qualifying event to add the child to the policy. Most group health insurances are from employers, so check with your HR department before you leave to go get your child. You could probably fill out some paperwork on your child beforehand to make the process easier when you arrive home. But be careful, some group insurances require that you add them within 30 days of the child being home (U.S. soil).

Here are some websites that might be helpful on this topic:

Has anybody experienced difficulties with adding their newly adopted child to their health insurance policy? What hoops did you have to go through to get your child added to your health insurance or an individual policy? 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Calling all Poland adoption blogs!

I am wanting to create another page on this blog that links my blog followers up with other families who are blogging about Poland adoptions and/or saving money for adoption.

If you are blogging about your adoption/saving money for adoption or if you know of a great blog that you follow does, please email them to me or leave them in the comments section. I would love to link all of our families up so we can share stories and resources.

My email is sarai dot barnett at gmail dot com.

Another Update on our Social Security Card Situation

It's been one week since I last posted about our daughter not getting her social security number. I don't really have a grand update on it or anything. I called Senator Landrieu's office to see if they had any updates about it on Monday. The nice lady said she received an email stating that our application and another family's application is top priority of being processed. I pray that it will come in this coming up week!

On another note, I feel a little down and blue. I am beginning to think that this adoption is harder than it needs to be with all of our paperwork mishaps, dealing with some issues with our daughter (which could have totally been prevented in country), lots of other in country issues, and now it's taking forever for the social security number. I can't wait for us to file for recognition for adoption! I don't mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, but what's next? Geez... I'm sure there are adoptive families out there that have felt this a time or two!