This was originally posted on our family blog under the title, "Pre-School Parley." I am re-posting on the adoption blog because - well, they are just so cute! :)
A friend snapped these pictures of Ian and Alec the day of our church baptisms. His camera is one of those with fast shooting of multiple shots, and the result was this cute series depicting a scene we see almost every day in our home. These two brothers are constantly having intense conversations about one thing or another! I love having a visual reminder of their "pre-school parley." :)
Ian and Alec are learning more every day, especially now that they are in jardin. They practice their Spanish on each other regularly, which is pretty much adorable. I will often hear them in the back of the van trying out their phrases such as one asking, "Vamos a la casa?" And the other replying, "Si, vamos a la casa!" Or, as Ian's teacher pointed out yesterday he has picked up the typical Chilean slang phrase of "Ya, po!" and also loves to chant the cheer for Chile, "Chi-Chi-Chi-Le-Le-Le, Viva Chile!" (the latter being especially significant since Chile qualified for the World Cup this week!)
So thankful for these little guys and the sunshine they bring into our lives and those of everyone they meet.
Shortly before returning to Chile in January 2013 (after a year in the United States as a family) we received the final evaluation for our son who participated in the neuropsychological evaluation. Overall, our experience in obtaining this evaluation was very positive. We felt the report was fair, thorough, and captured his situation well. Now the challenge falls to us as we pursue the best means to meet his needs and help him reach his full potential.
For the record, the following is a glimpse of the areas where he will need additional attention and assistance. I have included direct quotes from the final report. We believe - as does the doctor who tested him - that his challenges are directly related to early malnutrition he suffered as an infant in Haiti, but trust in our big God to do great things in and through him!
1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: "Although [he] appeared to want to work cooperatively and comply with what was expected of him, symptoms of inattention interfered. [He] fidgets with any items that are within reach. His eyes tended to scan the room keeping him from remaining focused on the task at hand ... [He] has learned avoidance behaviors such as distracting the person that is guiding him, or simply changing the subject."
2. Language Disorder mixed - Expressive and Receptive: "His level of language development is essentially at a pragmatic level for needs and wants ... [he] is unable to use language as a method of organizing the world around him.
3. Global Developmental Delay: " ... his delays are associated with insults to the brain in early life. With this in mind, [he] demonstrates strength and potential age appropriate performance when materials are presented in a manner that allows him to process and comprehend the information that is being offered."
I never knew there were so many variations of testing that could be performed on a person's blood, but I rest assured that the healthcare professionals at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children are the most thorough I have ever met!
As I mentioned previously, both Ian and Alec dealt with anemia following their homecoming from Haiti and having them seen by a hematologist was on our checklist of things to do while in the United States on furlough ministry. Thankfully, I was so impressed by the quality of care we received during our office visit.
The appointment was quite lengthy, considering that we had to cover history and review medical records from several different countries for not one, but two patients. However, our hematologist and another doctor in training gave us their undivided attention for as long as it took. They also coordinated the blood draw so that we could immediately proceed with that step on the same day (much to our boys' chagrin!)
To make a long story short, Alec was diagnosed with a blood disorder called hereditary elliptocytosis. This, while sounding rather scary, should actually affect him very little throughout his lifetime. In fact, the specialist told us that most people who have the condition are unaware of it unless they become ill. Jaundice, gall and spleen issues, are a few things we need to watch for just in case.
We're grateful for such excellent medical attention and for this piece of knowledge that will help us be that much more aware in the future as Alec grows. Most of all we are thankful to God for two healthy boys, knowing that the Great Physician is the One responsible for healing both their bodies and souls!
A brief update regarding a few areas in which we are currently investing time and effort:
Neuropsychological Evaluation -
We feel very blessed to have been referred to the Center for Developmental Adoption Medicine where we are working with Dr. Davida Harlem to identify and address our son's cognitive needs. It sets our hearts at ease to know that the full purpose of this practice revolves around adoption! Initially Pedro and I traveled for a lengthy meeting in which we were able to share our story and areas of concern for our son. Though we had already spoken of this many times together at home, somehow it was encouraging to hear my husband's perspective as shared with a third person. We felt very comfortable with Dr. Harlem and our son seems to as well. So far he has had two morning sessions of cognitive testing. Basically this involves intervals of question and answer times for as long as his attention span lasts! We are currently waiting to find out whether one more session will be needed, as Dr. Harlem organizes the results of his testing in conjunction with the results of his speech and hearing tests.
New Certificates of Citizenship -
This week we also sent off for new Certificates of Citizenship for Ian and Alec, since their names were changed via re-adoption. The process itself is fairly straightforward (fill out the form, enclose a copy of the court order and their original CoC.) Unfortunately it is quite an expense - $345 per child - but we feel strongly that it is very important for our sons to have every piece of paperwork they might ever need to validate their identity and US citizenship. Thus we took a deep breath, wrote the check, and sent off those original precious papers we struggled to obtain in the first place!
Hematology Appointments -
Bloodwork for both Ian and Alec revealed anemia upon their homecoming in 2010 and we have been monitoring it ever since. We hope that this visit with a US hematologist might clear up some lingering questions and it would be wonderful to be told that they are now at normal levels! Their appointments are scheduled for next Thursday, September 27.
Quite recently we have found ourselves entering a new chapter of life with one of our sweet boys from Haiti. To protect his privacy I won't share every detail but I do feel it is important to add yet another "postscript" to our Haitian adoption story. I do so because it appears that this blog continues to be a resource for families on a similar journey. In 2 Corinthians 1:4-5, we are told that God "comforts us in all our
tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any
trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."I hope that by adding a few new chapters to our story we can do just that - encourage or comfort others who may experience similar situations now or in the future.
I should preface this by saying that we know of adoptive families very near and dear to us who are going through struggles so much greater than ours with their precious children. Our hearts ache along with theirs, and it is not my intention to overstate our situation (which sometimes seems quite minor in comparison.) Yet it is through walking beside them that we have been encouraged to pursue any and all resources, testings, evaluations, etc. while our child is still young and while we have the opportunities being stateside. It is our hope that in so doing we will give him the best springboard for his future in every way possible.
To make a long story (somewhat) short, we have become concerned about two issues primarily. The first is what we have called "cognitive connections" (or lack thereof) and which I would describe as moments when we are talking directly to our son in simple terms and receive a blank look of confusion or a response which is completely out of context to the conversation. Along with that I might add some linguistic concerns, which at this point we do not know whether they are related directly to cognition or language. For instance - learning colors, which his brother at almost the same age knows perfectly, whereas this child calls every color "red." However, if we point to an object which is "yellow" he can then point to another object of the same color and say, "like that (car) is yellow." But if we ask him five minutes later, he will say the same object once again is "red."
The second and more pressing concern we have is regarding our son's struggle with impulse control and cause/effect thinking. While we have certainly seen improvement in this over the past two years (for instance, he usually now will not take candy or food without asking whereas one or two years ago he might consistently try to take a handful when we are not looking) there are times when all thought of consequence seems to fly out the window. Often this happens in a context where he is with peers. Two examples just in the past week would be: (1) Our current home sits on the parking lot of a church and the little boys know they are not allowed outside without an older sibling or adult. However, when a same-age cousin came to play, our son immediately acted upon her suggestion to take the wagon out into the parking lot without supervision and without thought of danger. (2) This example is on the lighter side, but still exemplifies the dilemma. Both little boys were taking a bath, and I had instructed this son not to play with the bar of soap and to put it away in the dish. I watched while he obeyed, then left the room but remained within earshot. I heard this son tell his brother not to play with the soap because Mommy had said so (but apparently his brother did so anyway.) Rather than act on what he knew was right regardless of his brother's choice, when I re-entered the room the son in question guiltily tried to submerge and hide the soap he had back in his own hands.
As I mentioned earlier, dear ones in our lives are struggling with extremely difficult adoption situations, and some are due to the ramifications of older child/ren reaping the tragic consequences of impulse control issues. We hope and pray that early intervention may allow us to protect our son in this area, but at the same time we know that early biological factors (drug and alcohol exposure, nutritional deprivation) victimize children even as early as the womb.
Truthfully, I did not know where to begin with seeking the help we might need. So I reached out to another adoptive mom whose blog was often a resource to me and received from her the recommendation to start with a "neuropsychological evaluation" of our child. Of course, I had to do some "googling" to find out what that even meant! It was helpful to me to realize we were not talking about psychological testing as much as evaluating cognitive/learning processes. However, I wanted to be able to work with someone who specifically had knowledge regarding adoption issues and graciously God allowed me to stumble upon a nearby hospital which actually has an international adoption department. I wrote for information and in return received a phone call from a wonderful lady who listened, recorded, and recommended the next steps to take.
Last week, my husband and I met with the director of a center dedicated specifically to developmental adoption issues. In future appointments she will provide testing for our son and she will coordinate directly with the hospital as well. She encouraged us that there are many different pieces to the "puzzle" and we need to try to find them in an organized fashion. Her recommendation was to begin with a hearing evaluation followed by a speech evaluation. She explained that with international adoption some of the language/cognition issues could be as simple as a hearing problem (wouldn't that be nice!) We will find out soon enough as we received a call yesterday alerting us to a cancellation on Monday which allows us to have him tested in these two areas immediately.
I am so grateful to God for opening the right doors for us. Though there are overwhelming moments when I feel that the next few months stretch out as a blur of doctor's appointments for us (a couple of our other children also need some specialized medical care prior to returning to Chile), I am reminded of His perfect provision and timing and that just as all the hard work prior to adoption was "worth it" - these issues pertaining to our son's health and well-being will be even more so.
My "postscript" series is on hold temporarily as we are seeking to legalize the boys' new birth certificates for use in Chile upon our return. So far they have received a state seal from Delaware and currently - we hope and pray - their certificates are in the hands of the US Department of State for their sign and seal. Once that is completed, we must send their birth certificates to the Chilean consulate in Philadelphia for their legalization. The final few steps take place in Chile and most likely we will wait until January to get those accomplished. We are required to get another stamp at the Ministry of Exterior (thankfully, this one is free) and then official translations at the same office (unfortunately, these are NOT free.) Last but not least, we submit their super-stamped birth certificates to the Civil Registry office in Chile in order to receive official Chilean birth certificates (which state that the boys were born overseas so I've never quite understood the significance, but oh well!)
So while we wait for the next chapter in this series I leave you with a few beautiful snapshots taken of my little guys this week. Ian is in the blue sweatshirt and Alec is in the yellow. They are absolutely LOVING the warmer weather and especially the enormous yard God has provided for us during this first half of furlough in Michigan. :)
It has been over one year since I last posted to this blog, and over two years since our boys finally came home! The purpose of this "postscript" is to record a final chapter of paperwork that is taking place now that our family has returned stateside for a year of furlough ministry in the US. While I know the ins and outs of adoption are often changing, my hope is that these details may be helpful to someone else who is or may soon be "in our shoes."
To summarize, our goals this year were to (1) re-adopt our sons in our home state of Delaware; (2) obtain United States birth certificates for both boys; (3) request new Social Security cards; (4) obtain new Certificates of Citizenship; and (5) apply for new US passports for each one, reflecting their new names.
Step 1: Delaware Re-Adoption
Through a Yahoo! support group for Delaware adoptive parents, I learned that we must contact a clerk within the county courthouse for a packet of documents required for re-adoption. These documents were to be typed out exactly the same as the originals but with our sons' information inserted. They then had to be signed and notarized, and submitted in person with a fee and accompanying documents such as the boys' original birth certificates, visas, and adoption decrees from Haiti (with English translations.) Less than two weeks later, the re-adoption decree was printed and ready for pick up! We praise God for guiding us through this process and for Delaware's making simple what in other state is often a costly and tedious affair.
Our purpose in re-adopting the boys despite their already having a full and final adoption in Haiti was first and foremost to provide them with access to a US birth certificate to confirm their citizenship and allow them to obtain copies as needed in the future (up to this point, we have only had one handwritten Haitian birth certificate for each child.) We wanted to make certain that Ian and Alec will have any and all documentation available so as to protect them from unforeseen complications in the future.
Step 2: US Birth Certificates
Once the adoption decree was in hand, we spoke to a contact at Delaware Vital Statistics about our situation. She told us to call back in two weeks, which we did and at which time she confirmed that the boys' certificates were in the system. We sent payment via personal check and with a self-addressed stamped envelope, receiving shortly thereafter our sons' Delaware birth certificates in the mail.
We did learn that future copies of their birth certificates will always need to be requested this way, as it is not possible to use an online service such as Vitalchek due to their birthplace being outside the United States.
Step 3: Social Security Cards
With new US birth certificates and re-adoption papers in hand, I went in person to the Social Security Administration in Flint, Michigan (where we were at the time) and received excellent help from the clerks there. They destroyed the boys' old cards and arranged for their new cards to be mailed to Delaware for receipt within 7-14 days. By the time we arrived to my parents' home the following week the cards were ready and waiting!
I have delayed this final post in order to fully enjoy another "first" with Ian and Alec ... their first trip to a very special vacation spot with our family and the Rubin cousins in southern Chile. The last time we took this trip was in December 2008, three months after meeting the boys in Haiti and while our hopes were still so high that they might be coming home any day. Little did we know that it would be another full year before those hopes were realized, yet that only made this vacation even more of a celebration of family.
three toddlers together: Ian, Alec and cousin Kendra
Our special spot is a beautifully designed cabin of native Chilean wood nestled in a deep green field, surrounded by stout, shady trees and just steps from a rippling river perfect for swimming, fishing and exploring. It is owned by an American who rents it out for weeks at a time and this year we had the wonderful privilege of spending two full weeks in this peaceful private getaway.
hand in hand with cousin Juliana
They were weeks of utter enjoyment for all of our children, but it was especially remarkable to observe our Haitian sons as they experienced the amazing beauty of God's creation and the thrill of vast outdoor spaces to run and play and discover. The scenery there is breathtaking, with rolling hills and rich farmland and smoke rising from the nearby snow-capped volcano that looks over the great valley below. Ian and Alec delighted in all that they saw, from rocks and sticks to cows and piglets and horses they observed on our walks and drives through the countryside.
at Volcan Villarrica with Daddy
The boys climbed partway up the volcano; bathed in natural thermal waters; shrieked at the frigid river current; took a boat ride through two lovely lakes; and followed their older siblings and cousins here, there and everywhere in fascination. It was the perfect way to spend the anniversary of their homecoming and it is a vacation we will never forget.
Ian, January 2011
Yes, as amazing as it seems we have truly and finally come full circle from Haiti ... to Home. Today as I watched our two little boys playing together, unaware of my gaze upon them as they marched hand in hand circling the yard and talking up a storm of adventures, my heart was full and at peace. I am thankful, so thankful, for the amazing grace of God poured out on our lives through this journey. It is my hope and prayer that we might never forget the display of His sovereignty, power and faithfulness made evident through it all. And to those of you who walked this journey with us in prayer, friendship and faith ... thank you so very much!
I recorded this video to remember the crazy enthusiasm of my two boys discovering the "ball pool" while on an outing with their cousins in Santiago ... they sure know how to make the most of the moment! :)
On a Monday night like tonight, one year ago today, Pedro and I boarded a plane and flew to meet our Haitian sons in Florida. Even today, the emotions of that trip overwhelm me. Never has there been for us a crazier and more nerve-wracking yet miraculous 24 hours than what we experienced with Ian and Alec's homecoming.
Literally, from the moment we walked out our door in Iquique, Chile, South America on Monday night to the moment our sons landed in Ft. Pierce, Florida, North America on Tuesday night we were speeding across air and time and space to arrive just in the nick of time to gather them into our arms.
I'll never forget taking urgent calls with driving directions on the cell phone borrowed from my sister-in-law just minutes earlier, while we pushed our rented vehicle to the speed limit (and beyond) and watched mile markers pass by, praying that we would not miss Ian and Alec's arrival after a 6-hour plane delay in Peru made us late and fluctuating flight plans made them late ... and there we were on unfamiliar roads in unfamiliar towns and we stopped first at the wrong airport and "no, it's just another ways down there," and hurrying, hurrying into the doors and the small crowd of waiting parents who were holding their breath just like us, and finally! oh finally, the officer let us in and there they really, truly were ...
I think of it now and it's like a dream. Seeing our adoption coordinator, being handed a feverish and tired Ian (who just days later would be in the ER with rotovirus) and trying to win over a wild Alec who just wanted to run free after his hours cooped up on a small airplane with half a dozen others.
I wish I had more video of that moment, but only two small clips record the memory:
Thankfully, these are memories that will forever be recorded on my heart ... of the day God brought us and our sons fleeing from distant corners of the world and joined us together in a tiny airport in Ft. Pierce. There was so much more in store - joys and challenges, transitions and triumphs - but that night was the culmination and fulfillment of so many hopes and dreams, long delayed, yet finally come true by the grace of God.
These pictures were taken on a very rare afternoon when Ian and Mommy were the only ones at home. Despite the absence of his usual partner in crime (aka, brother Alec) Ian entertained himself just fine with a bucket, a shovel, and a whole swimming pool full of water in which to splash about!
It was fun listening to him babble as he pulled his sister's boogie board loaded with goodies to and fro in the pool. Ian is such a bundle of energy that it is difficult for him to stay in one place for long. But happily he was content for quite awhile on this day! I snapped these pictures to remember his joy - and that beautiful smile.
This morning Alec was leaning eagerly against the inside of his crib, watching and waiting for his turn as I first diapered and dressed his brother. Suddenly he announced to Ian, "I need some lovins'!" To which Ian immediately jumped up, ran to the crib and flung his arms around Alec's neck.
The two of them giggled with their arms wrapped around one another as if holding on for dear life. Finally they let go and Ian returned to me for his shoes. But no sooner had he turned away from the crib then Alec announced again, "I need some lovins'!" and the process was repeated once more.
This happened three times before the business of getting Ian dressed was finally done, and I had to laugh every time. I've never seen the boys do this before, even though I know exactly where they learned it. I often tell my kids, "Mommy needs some lovins'!" and almost always I will have someone immediately in my arms and hugging my neck. Those are the most precious moments of my day.
It is so sweet to me that the boys are learning patterns of affection and brotherly love! It is such a far cry from the fighting, biting, pinching and hitting that would take place when they first came home one year ago. They are now best buds with one another, and affectionate with their older siblings as well.
This blog was created to chronicle our family's journey to adopt our fourth child, a little boy from Haiti. Long before knowing him, we chose his name: Ian, meaning "God is gracious." Along the way our journey grew to include not only one, but two little boys from Haiti!
Ian and Alec finally arrived home on January 19, 2010.
Adoption Timeline (From Most Recent)
1/27/10 - Home to Chile
1/22/10 - Passports (US)
1/19/10 - Evacuated to US
1/12/10 - Haiti Earthquake
1/8/10 - INS Approval - visa appt scheduled for 2/19
11/23/09 - Enter INS/USCIS
11/18/09 - Passports (Haiti)
11/09 - Exit MOI
9/22/09 - (or so) Enter MOI
9/09 - Exit 2nd Legal
8/09 - Enter 2nd Legal
8/28/09 - Exit Parquet
8/8/09 - Enter Parquet
8/7/09 - Exit IBESR
3/4/09 - USCIS Birthparent Interview (Ian)
10/16/08 - USCIS Birthparent Interview (Alec)
9/24/08 - Submitted I-600 & Orphan First in Haiti
7/1/08 - (or so) Entered IBESR
6/4/08 - I-171H approval
5/25/08 - (or so) Entered first legal
5/13/08 - Dossier received in Haiti
4/11/08 - Committed to our boys (Ian & Alec)
4/1/08 - Filed I-600A
2/14/08 - Received referral of twins (referral lost early April)
1/11/08 - Applied to Haiti agency, began dossier preparation
1/10/08 - First conversation with Shiloh's Haiti Adoption Coordinator