Thursday, May 27, 2010

Costs to Adopt

It costs a staggering amount of money to adopt. It can be as little as a couple thousand dollars to adopt a child in the foster care system or up to sixty thousand dollars. Yep, $60,000. That's a lotta money.

So what are all the fees for? (I'm mostly talking about the fees for a domestic adoption that is not through the foster care system. Some of the fees overlap to other types of adoption, but not all.)

The first thing you need is a homestudy. As near as I can figure this is a social worker meeting with the potential adoptive family and touring their home to make sure that they have "a suitable environment to raise a child". Actually, it's several meetings and a bunch of paperwork. Fingerprints, criminal record checks, medical clearances and that sort of thing. This cost $1000-$1500 or so.

If you decide to use an adoption consultant their fees are generally $2000-$3000.
The adoption consultant is the person who looks out for the interests of the adoptive parents and helps to guide them through the process.

Then there are the fees to the adoption agency. This is a huge chunk of the cost to adopt. My understanding is about $13,000-$15,000. Gulp! Did you know that agencies work in the best interest of the birth parents? Now, don't get me wrong, I am glad that there is someone protecting their interests I just have a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I am paying that much money to someone who isn't even looking out for my best interest. I was really surprised to find out what these fees cover. Can you guess? Advertising. All that money for advertising. Whew.

Birth mother expenses. This varies a lot. It totally depends on the situation and what the birth mother needs. Anything from maternity clothes, to medical bills to rent so she has somewhere to live. These fees could be minor or thousands and thousands of dollars.

And then there are the expenses involved in actually going to pick up the child from whereever he or she is born. When you adopt a newborn in the US the adoptive parents go to the hospital where the baby is going to be born or is already born. After the birth mother signs away her parental rights and the child is discharged from the hospital the adoptive parents can take the child with them. But until the state the child was born in and the state the adoptive parents live in get on the same page, the adoptive parents cannot leave the state with their child. So this is usually about two weeks in a hotel, plus airfare and any other travel expenses.

The cost is overwhelming. There are no guarantees. We could spend thousands of dollars and still not have another child. I cannot think of a single way to raise the kind of cash needed to make this happen. Well, I could think of a couple of ways but other than winning the lottery none of them are legal.

So we are at a crossroad. Do we go for it? Do we wait until we can save more money? Do I get a job to help with the expenses? There don't seem to be any good answers. There sure as heck aren't any easy answers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cutting Hair at Home

I started cutting Doodlebug’s hair when he was about 6 months old. He had this little patch on the top of his head that was about 3 inches long. It was very cute until he got fitted for his helmet. It stuck out and he looked like a rooster, and not in a flattering way. So we went to Target, bought a mustache trimmer and started trimming.

I bought a mustache trimmer instead of a hair clipper because it was smaller and I wanted to have more control over it. It turned out to be the perfect size.

Since Doodlebug was not yet sitting up on his own I stripped him to his diaper, put him in his Bumbo and started clipping away. He did great, never even flinched. Not that he was still, he squirmed away but never even noticed what I was doing with his hair.

I started with the longest setting on the trimmer and for this haircut that was all I needed. Now that he has more hair to work with, I leave it a little longer on top and trim the sides a little bit shorter. And just a helpful tip, if you put the trimmer down during the haircut always make sure that the guard is still on the setting you thought it was. I don’t know this from experience. And especially not the experience of moving the guard from the longest setting to the shortest one without noticing the day before his first birthday. Because I would never do that. Oh no, I would never do anything like that.

Now when I get ready to cut his hair I put an Elmo DVD in and sit him on a large towel in the family room. It works great. He is mesmerized by Elmo and I just buzz around him trimming him up.

I am linking up to We are THAT Family and the Works for me Wednesday posts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Teaching Babies Sign Language

I have always planned to teach my son a few sign language signs. Babies can sign much more easily than they can verbalize words. In fact, children being raised in a home where sign language is used can start to sign around 6 months of age.

My goal is to teach my son simple words so he can communicate a desire to eat, sleep, drink, use the bathroom…. If he is able to communicate his needs more clearly to me it will reduce the amount of frustration on everyone’s part.

One of the great things about using sign language is that you are able to take the child’s hands and move them to make the sign. It’s not possible to make a child repeat a sound after you. Sometimes the parent physically guiding the child to make the sign helps the child to understand what is expected of him or her.

We worked on this concept with Doodlebug for months on end. He just wasn’t getting it. He understood when I signed to him, but did not know what I wanted him to do. Finally one day he took my hands and guided me through signing the word “book”. Progress! Within a few more days he could sign “book” when I showed him the sign and verbally encouraged him to sign it. And a few days after that he started signing the word spontaneously.

He was reading books by himself shortly after that. He looked down at his book, signed “book” (to himself) and then picked it up and started to read. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How To Teach Your Baby To Drink Through A Straw

I have been wanting to teach Doodlebug to drink through a straw for a while now. But when I asked friends how they taught their kids to do this, they all said they didn’t know. Hmm…that’s not so helpful.

So in case anyone else is wondering, this is how I taught Doodlebug to drink through a straw.

Remember when you were a kid and you would dip your straw in your drink and put your index finger over the top? When you pulled your straw up out of the drink the liquid would stay in the straw until you took your finger off the top. This is exactly what you do. I drew up only a small amount of liquid and offered it to Doodlebug. When he closed his lips around the straw I took my finger off the top of the straw and let the liquid go.

Then I repeated this about 100 times. We did this after every bite of food 3 meals a day and one snack a day for about 4 days. As he got used to this I let him suck on the straw a bit to help draw out the liquid before releasing it.

After he had that down, we graduated to a juice box. I placed the straw in Doodlebug’s mouth and squirted a small amount in. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Once he could seemed comfortable with that I just let him suck on the straw and he figured the rest out on his own. We just moved him up to a slightly wider straw and keep on practicing.

Ta da! The whole process took less than a week.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Big Week for Doodlebug

Doodlebug had a big week this week. If you will allow me to brag on my little boy for a moment....

First he learned how to drink out of a straw. Yay! He's been a bit behind in hitting his developmental milestones and one area we've really been struggling in is to get him to drink out of a sippy cup. He either could not or would not do it. I finally asked his speech and feeding therapist to tell me how to teach him to drink out of a straw. She gave me a couple of pointers and in less than a week he was doing it on his own.

We have been working to teach him sign language since September. That's eight months people. We want to teach him a few signs like "more", "finished", "eat" and "potty". Since he has no spoken words yet this would really help us out a lot if he could tell us some of these things. This week he finally got it! He only has one sign "book" but he uses it consistently and without prompting from us. He loves to read and we've been reading to him even more than usual this week.

And he took his first step. He's been pretty good about waiting to hit new milestones until both Chris and I are with him and he that for us again. One minute he was cruising along the ottoman and the next he let go and took a step towards me. What a sweet baby boy.

Dear Doodlebug,

I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished in one short week. It's so much fun to see you conquer new things. Remember, you are my favorite baby in the whole wide world.

Love you,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Adoption-Here We Go

Remember those Fisher Price little people? I had those and I loved to play with them. I think I had about 20 or so and they all lived in a four room house. With no bathroom. I'm not sure how that worked, but I don't remember it being a problem.

I spent a lot of time playing with them and making up stories about their world and what they did. This is where I created my first adoptive family. Granted back then I was a little confused about the subject because I had triplet girls, two of whom I declared were adopted and one who was not.

I always knew I wanted to adopt and always thought I would adopt my kids. I never expected to give birth to a child, but life's full of twists, turns and surprises, and of course, my Doodlebug.

Going through pregnancy with Doodlebug was not a fun thing. At all. About 5 minutes after I got the positive pregnancy test I got queasy and it didn't stop until he was born. From May to January I fought to get down and keep down every single bite of food I ate. I was miserable and I am never doing that again.

So we are starting to get serious about adopting. We want to wait until Doodlebug is around 18 months old or so. That way if we get a child really quickly the kids will be at least 18 months apart. Any closer and I think I might lose my sanity. Well, I might lose it anyway, or it could be gone by now for all I know. My sanity I mean.

This past fall we went to an adoption expo and learned about Adoption Consultants. They are people who work for the potential adoptive parents. From what I understand their main purpose is twofold.

One they provide education. There is a lot to learn and navigate in the adoptive process. Domestic or international? What race(s) are you willing to accept? What age(s)? Will you accept a child whose mother used drugs? Which drugs? Recreationally or a hard core user? How do you market your family to a potential birth mother?

The second main purpose is to help you match up with a mother who is giving her baby up for adoption. Did you know that adoption agencies work for the birth parents only? I didn't. It is their interests that are being protected, not the potential adoptive parents. I had no clue.

So, we called two adoptive consultants today to make appointments. We need to know if it is realistic to think that we can adopt based on the budget we have. And where do we go from here?

I am excited. And terrified. After all, with a second child I'm going to be outnumbered during the day. Yikes! And I'm wondering about this little baby. Will we have a boy or a girl? When? What will his or her personality be like? By this time next year will our family be complete?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How To Start Eating Gluten Free-Traveling

Eating out is the area I struggle most in with eating gluten free. Well, and not being able to eat Krispy Kreme donuts. Or Oreos. But I digress….

I am very sensitive to gluten and I just don’t trust other people not to accidentally contaminate my food. I am always afraid that they will put my hamburger on a bun and then remember I ordered it without a bun and just take it off and serve it to me. I always wonder if chicken nuggets or onion rings have been cooked in the same fryer as the french fries.

When I was in the hospital to have Doodlebug I was offered fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, neither of which was gluten free, even though we specified all food had to be gluten free. My salad arrived with croutons on it too.

All said, I am very suspicious and always concerned when I have to eat out. I have found a couple of tricks that make traveling a little easier though.

Before going on any type of a road trip I make sure I know a few things I can eat at several fast food restaurants. I know I can walk into any Wendy’s order chili and a Frosty and my food should be gluten free. If I know things I can eat at several places it give me, and those traveling with me, a lot more choices. Most fast food places have menus that list food allergens online and I check these to make sure I am up to date. I have also printed out a few and stuck them in the car so I have the information when I need it. Although it’s available online I have not had much luck in getting this information while actually in a fast food restaurant.

I also make note of chain restaurants that have gluten free menus. Bonefish Grill, Carrabas, Outback Steakhouse and P.F. Changs all have gluten free menus if you ask for them. I personally feel more comfortable eating in places that have gluten free menus as the staff seems to be more knowledgeable of gluten and how to avoid it.

My other traveling trick is to carry my own food. I don’t always need it, but if I get caught somewhere I feel a lot better knowing that I have something that is safe for me to eat. In a restaurant a plain baked potato or a salad without croutons and dressed with vinegar and oil is usually available and is enough to get me through the meal, but I will probably want a little something later.

In my view, eating out is generally not worth the risk and I almost always choose to eat at home instead, but there are a lot of people who do eat out on a regular basis and are much more adept at explaining how to handle their food to the restaurant in such a way as to not contaminate it with gluten. If any of my readers fall into this category and have tips to add I would love to hear them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review-The $64 Tomato

I love good books. Going to the library is free and supplies me with endless amounts of entertainment. Of course, it’s tough to know which books are going to be the good ones, and which are not. I find myself trying to tell by the jacket covers. Sometimes it works, but not very often. I usually read a couple of sentences before I toss it in my bag to take home. If it start out “Blanch DeFrufru yearned for a new life. Little did she know that crossing paths with Lance Malcom, the handsome gardener would provide such a change for her.” I put it back. Every once in a while I find one I really enjoy. Some are quirky. Some are deep. And some are just fun reads.

I just read a great little book called The $64 Tomato. Actually the whole title to this book is The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden. I knew from the title I would have to read it.

I love people who kind of bumble around a bit in life, laugh and themselves and live to tell the tale. It comforts me to know that I’m not the only one. I love that at the end of this book I feel like I have seen Bill’s garden, sat with him in it and had a chat. And any guy who names his archenemy in the garden Superchuck feels like a friend to me. Because, why wouldn't you name the woodchuck who is systematically destroying your garden?

Oh, and just so you know, I linked to the book in Amazon. Not because I care if you buy it, or because I will make any money if you do (I won’t) but merely to make sure that I give you all the proper information so you can find the book. The full title, the author and all that jazz.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

How to Start Eating Gluten Free-Medical Providers

***Disclaimer: I am not a medical profession. These are my opinions and experiences only unless indicated otherwise in this article. Do not use this information in place of doing your own research on these issues.***

Until recently, med students were taught that Celiac disease was very, very rare. General practitioners expected to see approximately one patient with it in their lifetimes. The education they received about Celiac and eating gluten free was minimal at best. Now, Dr . Alession Fasano with the Center for Celiac Research says As many as 1 out of 133 people in the US have Celiac Disease. Of these 3 Million people in the US who have Celiac Disease it is estimated that 97% are undiagnosed. It is way more than the medical profession realized. And then you add in people who are gluten-intolerant or following a gluten free diet as part of a treatment for Autism or eating gluten free for any other health reasons and the numbers multiply exponentially.

That said I have to say I have been seriously underwhelmed at the knowledge within the medical community at large about Celiac disease and eating gluten free. Why you ask? Oh, let me share some of my experiences. Where to start….

When I started having GI symptoms over a prolonged period of time, I knew I had developed Celiac. I had several of the more classic symptoms and my mom has it, and Celiac does have a genetic component. I went to my primary care doctor, told her about my symptoms and family history and requested a blood test to begin the process of formal diagnosis. At first she told me I couldn’t have the test, I did not have Celiac. When I pressed her she told me my symptoms did not match with Celiac and that family history did not really play a role. What???????? I finally insisted she give me the blood test. She was surprised it was positive. I was not.

Just before I gave birth to my son my nurse called down to get me a dinner plate for after the delivery. When she told them I had to have gluten free food they told her I could pick from fried chicken or macaroni and cheese. Neither of those were gluten free. I was also served toast, croutons and oatmeal before I finally told them to just stop bringing me food. Thankfully we had thought ahead and brought some food from home with us so I knew it was gluten free.

A physician assistant working in at my gastroenterologist’s office told me medication never has gluten in it. Actually she laughed at me when I questioned whether she had verified a medication she was trying to give me had gluten in it and then told me that no drugs contain gluten. She was wrong.

My son’s pediatrician and my pharmacist were shocked to learn some medications do contain gluten.

If you are diagnosed with Celiac or decide to go on gluten free diet for any other reason know that you are going to have to be your own advocate. Know that you will have to do lots of research. Know that you will have to ask lots of questions and educate many people, some of whom will be in the medical field. It is frustrating, and can be exhausting. Right after being in labor for 12 hours, up for over 48 hours in a row, having just had a c-section and trying to learn to nurse was not when I wanted to educate the head of the department that prepares all the patients’ food. But that’s when the opportunity came, so I did.

I have actually found that in questioning medical professionals about being gluten free I can learn quite a lot about them and how they practice medicine.

My son’s pediatrician, who is wonderful, was very receptive to me bringing him information on research studies on Celiac. He also did some research on his own after I told him that some meds contain gluten. When he prescribed meds to my friend’s little boy (who is gluten free) a couple months later he mentioned to her that some meds do contain gluten and to have the pharmacist double check before filling the prescription.

I gave my son’s former gastroenterologist a summary of a research report on introducing gluten to kids who may have the gene for Celiac and he glanced at it, shoved it back at me and told me he would get all the information he needed at a conference that fall. I was pretty surprised because the study was the same information I had asked him about on our last visit, and he had no answers.

The pediatrician listens to patients, learns from patients and does research on things he does not know about. The gastroenterologist does not think patients can bring him any knowledge and that he already knows it all. I know which doc I want to work with and which one needs to go.
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