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Random Tuesday (Halloween) Thoughts

The closer we get to being matched with a child, the more I start thinking about who this child is and what it will be like to start our family. Is their biological mother pregnant with them right now? Or is our child already born? Is our child a boy or a girl? Are they sad or being hurt right now? Or are they happy and don’t understand what is going on in their life? Will they be dressing up for Halloween today and going trick or treating? I would LOVE to be taking our child out tonight for trick or treating. Next year. 🙂

It is kind of fun and exciting to have these thoughts, but it also makes me anxious and impatient. Although we are extremely close to being approved and in child search, it has taken us 9 months to get to this point. If I had been pregnant all this time, I would have already given birth! Talk about perspective. I could have cooked a little human by now and be holding and loving them. Nothing worth having comes easy, right? A lady that works for our adoption agency told me recently, “This part is my labor pains”. Although not physical pain, I can definitely feel the mental and emotional toll lately.

It is funny how something can consume so much of you, but you don’t really realize it until you start making stupid mistakes at work or stop doing things like you used to do. I have always been so good about sending cards to people for their birthday or even remembering it was their birthday. In the past 9 months, I have slipped in this department and I apologize to anyone who has felt the neglect. It is not intentional!

We started putting together a room for our child! That has been really fun. We chose an arctic theme with black, white, gray, and some blue. There will be penguins, polar bears, and any other arctic creatures we can find. The convertible crib is half way put together because we aren’t sure if we will need a crib or a toddler bed. 😀 So, we wait. I am currently searching for a new to gently used crib/toddler bed mattress, high chair, and rocking chair. I can see yard sales in my near future. 😉

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Media center we bought for $55, added some cute cubbies, and made it a dresser and changing table, if needed!

Our home study is this coming Friday, November 3 and I think we are actually ready. We hadn’t done any child proofing of the house prior to this week because the process was dragging and we knew we had time. Then BAM! Our social worker, Briana, scheduled our home study one week out from our individual interviews with her. We were stoked! As of right now, we are looking at approximately 2 months for full approval. Fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes crossed!

Andrew and I have been going over our list of child names and trying to decide what we like best. If we are able to adopt an infant or child under 1 year old, we would feel more comfortable with a name change. However, is it poor form to change a child’s name when they are old enough to know it and possibly even say it? This is all up in the air, at the moment. I guess we will need to play it by ear and see what happens.

So, that is all for now. A little bit more waiting for us, but it shouldn’t be too much longer until we can introduce the world to the newest little Fisher. Since we are going the Fos-Adopt route, we will not be able to show pictures of our child’s face until the adoption is finalized (during the foster care portion). Finalization will take at least 6 months, if not longer. We will still post pictures, just with a blurred or covered face. 😀

 

 

There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To Adopt

Hello and Happy Thursday!

It has been awhile since I have posted on here. I know some of you are aware of our adoption updates and others are not. So, update I shall!

Andrew and I were working hard back in February and March on social media, fundraising, and outreach to help with our adoption of Oliver. We were looking at a hefty price tag of approximately $45,000. I did so much research on how we could ever afford something like this, especially since we had less than 1 year to pay the money. We knew that Oliver was worth every penny, but we wondered if we were going to put ourselves in debt that would be harmful to our family and new life with our son. We didn’t want that to happen.

One evening in March, we had a mandatory meeting with a local couple that had adopted two children through the same agency we were using for our home study. They were very nice and helpful throughout our meeting, answering every question we had to the best of their ability. Their situation was a little different than ours. They went into adoption already having two biological children. Also, they went through a program called Fos-Adopt. Have you heard of this? We hadn’t either.

Fos-Adopt is a low-legal-risk program that will place you with a California foster child that fits your criteria (age, gender, race, special needs, etc.), with the goal of adoption. This is different from being just a foster parent because there is a much lower probability that these children will be unified with their biological families.

In a way, this program is more risky than international because there is always a chance the child could be reunified with their birth parents. On the other hand, the wait time and financial burden is much less than international adoption. Needless to say, we were intrigued by this new found program. This family had adopted two children through this program, in a matter of a couple years. Their first child was placed with them and the adoption was finalized after only six months. The second child took a little longer to be finalized, 18 months, due to birth family complications. Theirs was a promising story.

Then we asked, “How much does the Fos-Adopt program cost?” The adoption agency employee was at the meeting with us and she provided us a breakdown of all the associated fees. She summed it up with, “Approximately $3,000”. Our initial response was, “Ok, that’s for the first part. How much after that?” But that was it. The entire adoption process would cost us approximately $3,000. How in the world did we not know about this program??? We were both in complete awe at this news. We left their house that evening with mixed emotions. On one hand, we had grown feelings for Oliver and had been planning on making him our son. On the flip side of that coin, this Fos-Adopt program will still provide us with our first child and we can afford it without going into debt.

We discussed our options for the next couple of days and ultimately decided that the Fos-Adopt program was the best choice for our family.

I had a really tough first week or so after that decision was made. My heart hurt for Oliver. For us. All the hard work we had done to adopt him and bring him into our home was done. Halted. We contacted everyone that donated money and/or items to sell and offered to return everything, since our plans had changed. People were so understanding and generous. Most of them had us keep the money/items to use towards our new adoption plans. The way we had to start looking at it was our goals didn’t change, just the path in which we were taking to get there.

As for Oliver, he will always hold a special place in our hearts. We started this journey with him. We will keep his pictures and videos and continue our hope that an amazing family will adopt him soon. For never meeting someone in-person, he sure did leave an impression.

So, here we are. July 13, 2017. It has been about four months since our abrupt change in trajectory. We have completed our information session, adoption preparation classes, huge stack of paperwork, and we have paid our fees up to this point. Right now, we are waiting to be assigned a social worker who will conduct our home study. At this rate, we could be placed with a child in as little as 3 months. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this journey. We appreciate you!

The Whys

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With many decisions in life, comes the “why” questions. It is natural for people to want to understand your thinking and logic behind a decision you have made, whether big or little. I am sure I do the same thing.

Person: I am looking for another job.

Me: Oh yeah? Why is that?

Person: I am just ready for a change.

Me: Awesome! I hope you find a position that is the perfect fit for you!

Does it really matter why this person is looking for a new place of employment? Shouldn’t I trust that they know the best decision for their life and situation? Shouldn’t I assume that they know what will make them happy?

Andrew and I have received many “why” questions associated with our decision to adopt our first child. We respect people’s curiosity and the fact that family and friends are looking out for our best interest. At the same time, some questions can be taken as condescending, rude, and/or out of line. Maybe it’s not the question, but how it is asked. I am sure that some of you reading this have experienced the same thing.

Andrew and I discussed this matter last night and he inspired me to write this post. Not that it matters what others think of our choice, but we feel it is important for everyone to understand where we are coming from.

Here are a few questions we have heard and our answers to them:

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Why Adoption?

This question is understandable. Our family and friends most likely expected a “We Are Pregnant” announcement rather than “We Are Adopting”. This being our first child, some are confused why we wouldn’t keep trying or turn to fertility assistance. The decision to adopt our first child is not us telling the world that we are not going to continue to try for a biological child. If it happens, it happens. We are ready to start a family and the amount of children in this world that don’t have a loving family to belong to is astronomical. We are so happy to be able to provide a stable, happy home for Oliver.

Personally, I have always wanted to adopt at least one child. This is something I shared with Andrew from the beginning of our relationship and he has been on board with it. Did he expect to adopt our first child? Probably not. I didn’t either, actually. I never thought it would be so difficult for me to become pregnant. It has been three years now since I took away the goalkeeper (fun little term Andrew’s brother uses for birth control). Gotta give credit where credit is due. 😉

Life doesn’t always work out the way you imagine it, and that’s ok. You improvise. Adopting Oliver is not taking anything away from us. It is providing us with the family that we desire and will be adding so much joy and happiness to our life. This is what we want and this is why we have chosen adoption.

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Why China?

There are children all over the world stuck in foster care and orphanages. It is hard for some people to understand why we would look outside of California and the United States to adopt a child. The truth is, we did not start this process with the vision of an international adoption. We had no idea what to expect when we started our research. Originally, we would search “California adoption” and “United States adoption” thinking that local would be easier and cheaper.

There were a few factors that we soon learned about with local adoptions:

  1. With many adoptions, you take a risk that the biological parent(s) will fight for and/or receive custody again. This can lead to legal battles.
  2. Many children in the foster care system are part of a sibling group. According to http://www.promises2kids.org, in San Diego alone 3,112 children are in foster care. Of that number, 2,849 of them have one or more siblings.
  3. The majority of the children in the California foster care system are six years of age or older. According to http://www.kidsdata.org, there were 62,097 children in the California foster care system in 2014. 80% of those children are three years of age or older.

Regarding #1, the process of adopting a child, in itself, is scary, exhausting, and stressful. Add in the fact that the biological parent(s) may be able to obtain custody of their child again. The child that you have taken into your home, grown to love and adore, made a part of your family…that child could now be taken away from you if all parental rights were not dissolved in the beginning. Of course you have a choice in the matter of what child you want to adopt, so you may choose a child that has no parents in the picture. This is our choice. Oliver was abandoned at a hospital in China at the age of five months. No note, no birth certificate, and no luck in tracking down his parent(s). Now head down the list…

On #2, this is a very sad fact. Entire sibling groups are taken away from their parents due to neglect, abuse, and other awful mistreatment that I can’t fathom. In the end, some of these siblings groups are separated and adopted to different families. Again, since we do not have children of our own at this time, we do not wish to adopt more than one child. Plus, we would not want to separate the sibling groups, for there are people out there that are open to adopting them together. We are friends with a woman who adopted a sibling group of three…her first and only children. She has a heart the size of the universe and we are lucky to know her! Again, you have a choice in this matter. You can decide that you only want to adopt ONE child. There are plenty of only children in the local foster care systems.

This brings us to #3. Andrew and I decided in the beginning that we did not want to adopt a child that was older than three years old. The only reason we decided this is because this will be our first child. We would like to experience as many milestones as we can with our first child. Plus, much of the first couple years of their life will not be remembered. This will be helpful for their growing and healing from what they have endured in the first part of their little lives. When we finally pick up Oliver in China, he will be a few months shy of three years old. With his diagnosis of Down syndrome, he will be slightly behind the curve of children without Ds but we know he is perfectly capable of all things! Another thing we noticed with children under the age of three in the local foster care systems, is they have disabilities that are beyond our scope of expertise and would be very difficult to manage. I hope that doesn’t make us sound selfish or inconsiderate, but we do have to look out for the best interest of our marriage and family.

After searching many adoption websites, domestic and international, I stumbled upon Oliver’s picture. I thought he had the sweetest, most kissable face! I read his story, watched the video the agency posted online, and fell in love with him. This is not the way that Andrew or I planned the process to go. Andrew felt blind-sided by my affection that I instantly felt for Oliver. He didn’t even get to help in searching for our first child, I just presented his profile to him. I don’t know how other adoptive family’s found their children, whether it was online, in a book, or having the agency match them with a child using the criteria they were searching for in a child…but I am hoping our story is not unique.

My gut feeling is that both individuals, in the couple unit, are not on the same page the entire time through the adoption process. It’s a growing and learning experience for both parties. I realized that I was unfair to just pick Oliver and tell Andrew that I was “in love” with him. That puts a lot of pressure on him to accept my choice and go along with it to make me happy. Andrew also realized that sometimes life has a different plan for you and it might actually be better than what you originally thought. Ultimately, this choice was made together and we couldn’t be happier about it!

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Why Down syndrome?

The question of the year.

Look, we get it. Why would anyone CHOOSE to have a child with special needs? Why would you not CHOOSE a child that is “normal”? Why would you CHOOSE a child that may have heart problems, hearing problems, vision problems, difficulty speaking and/or walking, difficulty learning, and may have to live with you for the rest of your life? Why, why, why, blah, blah, blah….

The bottom line is Oliver did not CHOOSE to be abandoned, he did not CHOOSE to live in an orphanage, and he did not CHOOSE to have Down syndrome. Oliver deserves a family, a home, and, most importantly, a chance! A chance to prove to every naysayer that he is just as much worth it as a child that I may or may not become pregnant with someday. If I found out that I was pregnant with a child that would have Down syndrome, I would NOT abort it. No way! Down syndrome is not a death sentence, it does not mean that the individual will have additional medical issues, it does not mean that they will never live outside of their parent’s household, and it definitely does not mean that they deserve any less opportunities than the person next to them with the “normal” number of chromosomes.

When I was in elementary school, I would help out in the special education classroom every week. I would work with the kids on their projects, walk them to the bus at the end of the day, and play with them at recess. I remember a kid named Art. He was in a wheelchair, he was non-verbal, and he would spin “wheelies” in his motorized chair to make the kids laugh and cheer. Art was loved by many! I remember another kid named Eugene. He was also non-verbal, he could to walk, but he couldn’t control his saliva very well. He wore a handkerchief around his neck every day, usually a different color than the day before. When he would start to drool, we would say sweetly to him, “Eugene, wipe your mouth”. And he did. He always had a smile on his face and his stature was so petite. My favorite part was walking him to the bus after school. I would hold his hand and we would walk together to the front of the school. I would watch him get on the bus, with his little, smiling face, and I would wave goodbye and smile back. My heart has always been with individuals with special needs.

Andrew is a high school teacher and coach. He teaches Social Studies to general education students and does not have much experience with special education. However, he likes to come with me to Special Olympics, where I coach baseball and soccer (soon volleyball). This man has a HUGE heart! He is trying very hard to learn more about Down syndrome and what is associated with the diagnosis. Both of us have done our research, talked to parents of children with Down syndrome, and have discussed with each other our fears and worries.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we know it comes with extra work, but not without extra rewards! Ollie is our son, our choice. He will bring so much more to our life than we can even comprehend. Ask any parent of a child with Down syndrome. They will tell you all about it. 🙂

So before you come to us and ask us “Why?”, please ask yourself “Why not?”

Oliver’s Bucket List Item #1 – Hawaii

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Look At That View!

Well buddy, we already have a bucket list started for you. Don’t worry, it is all fun stuff. Promise! I am not posting these in any particular order, but why not start with Hawaii?!

I took a trip to Maui with my family in February/March 2013. My husband and I were newly dating and he was unfortunately not able to go with me on this paradise vacation. We have vowed that we will go to Hawaii together in the near future. Now that Oliver is on the way, we are super excited to include him in our future plans.

We don’t necessarily need to go to Maui, any island will do just fine. 😉 You can’t go wrong! Andrew and I have discussed visiting Kaua’i, known as the Garden Island. We love outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and camping. We want to expose Oliver to all of that and more. We never want him to be afraid of trying new things or to feel left out. We do not view him as a hindrance to our life’s journey, but as a joyful addition. We want to share with him all of life’s offerings.

So, first things first…HAWAII!

Our little buddy will need some time to get settled into his new home. He will need to get used to us, his parents, and the home we have to share with him. We hope in a year or two, we can take him on a trip to Hawaii and have some tropical fun!

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They Are Always Hungry For More!

We will visit the sandy beaches and feed the pesky birds…which is probably why they are pesky. Tourists like us feed them all the time! 😉 Ok, so maybe we just look at the birds. Regardless, sitting on the beach with my boys brings so much happiness to my heart just thinking about it. Oliver in his little swim trunks, sun hat, cool dude sunglasses, lathered in SPF 9000, and toes in the sand…what a vision! Mommy, daddy, and Ollie walking along the beach together, running through the incoming wake, kicking and screaming and laughing. My heart melts.

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Hammocks Are For Napping

When we have all tired, we will find a perfectly shaded hammock to lay in and take an afternoon snooze. This may be a far-fetched dream that we will get a toddler to take a nap when you are surrounded by this scenery and activity, but this is my story! 😉

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Oliver’s Grandma – Showcasing The Enormous Leaf Size

There will be at least one day of hiking and exploring. There is so much beauty to explore in this world and we want our boy to see it all! Waterfalls, private coves and swimming holes, big trees and leaves, and anything else we can discover. Hawaii is so green and lush. Everything is beautiful, almost surreal in a way. Very different from the California valley we live in. Seeing our boy’s face light up at the sight of the ocean, the animals, the foliage…it makes everything worth it!

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This Flower Is For You, Oliver

We will go to Luau’s, bonfires on the beach, visit tiny towns and shops, and we will eat all the yummy food we want! I will teach Oliver all about mommy’s favorite thing to do at the beach…collecting rocks and shells. Another one of my quirks. We will stay in a little VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) on the beach, so that every night we can fall asleep listening to the sound of the ocean. I bet those nights of cuddling will be the best!

Sigh…are we there yet??

Your Change Can Make A Change

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I don’t know about you, but I love change! Not just the act of making something different, but coins…I LOVE COINS! Quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, etc.

If I am walking down the street or at my husband’s soccer game and see a coin on the ground, you better believe I am picking it up! People probably look at me like I am crazy or disgusting for touching such a dirty piece of metal, but I don’t care. That coin is going towards a greater good, in my book. Even before our adoption journey, I have always saved coins. They are in an Almond Roca tin can in our house. Some coins are rolled and some are loose in Ziploc bags. I have a separate Ziploc for each denomination of coin. Every time I add more change to the can, I count it and mark it down on my folded sheet of paper inside. Ok, maybe I am crazy! 🙂

The thing is, it brings me joy. Watching these little pieces of zinc and nickel add up to dollars is fun for me. Now a days, we all seem to use our credit/debit cards more often than cash and that has pretty much eliminated the presence of coins in our lives. I actually asked Andrew recently if we could start withdrawing cash from the bank. That way, when we pay for our goods with cash, we will receive coins in return! Is this a sickness??

He doesn’t understand it. Heck, I don’t really understand it either. However, what a simple way to help us push forward in our fundraising efforts. Find a penny? Pick it up. As the riddle goes, “all day long you’ll have good luck”. But more importantly, put that penny in a sippy cup (or any container you wish) and save it. Add to it. You may only collect $5.00, but that $5.00 is for Oliver! It brings us that much closer to bringing him here and being a family forever.

Sippy Cup Change Drive – March 1 – 31, 2017

If you purchase a brand new sippy cup for the change drive, we would love to keep it for Oliver to use.

The household that collects the most change will win a prize!

Please let us know if you would like to be a part of our CHANGE. 🙂

 

We Are The Fishers

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Happiest Day Ever! – June 22, 2014

This blog is supposed to be about Oliver and his adoption journey, but some of you may want to know a little about the people behind the curtain.

We are Andrew and Ashley Fisher. 🙂

We met on a warm, sunny Wednesday in June at the most romantic place you could think of…Match.com! Yep, it works! Well, for us anyway. We have heard some serious horror stories about that site, but for us it was just a way to get connected and then it was pretty normal after that. “Normal” meaning texting on day one, met in-person on day three, dinner with Andrew’s parents on day four, and the rest is history!

Currently, we call Sacramento our home. We were both raised in northern California and we love the outdoors. Hiking, mountain biking, camping, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. It all makes us happy. We can’t wait to share our passions with our son, Oliver.

Andrew is a high school history teacher and boys’ Varsity soccer coach. I, Ashley, am an executive assistant at a national non-profit organization and I volunteer coach for Special Olympics of Northern California.

We share our home with two dogs, one cat, and two geckos. I LOVE animals. All animals. Our big dog, Otter, is a yellow lab mix, and our little dog, Buck, is a deer head chihuahua. Both are the sweetest canines around! Buck is kind of the miniature version of Otter…see??

Our cat, River, on the other hand is a bit of a spaz! He’s a sweetheart, but he definitely has some feral in him. I found River when he was only four weeks old. He was in the middle of the road, very ill and not moving when cars would zip by. Having my affinity for animals, I saved him. He was in pretty bad shape! But with some medicine and a lot of love, he has grown into a beautiful, loving cat.

 

Our goal is to one day own a home on some land, where we can have every animal imaginable. Every animal deserves a loving home. 🙂

Well, that is a little insight into our lives. We are so glad you stopped by and we hope you continue to follow our journey.

Oliver Lake Fisher

Our son, our pride and joy, our entire world.

We started this adoption journey in October 2016. At that time, it was just researching agencies, looking through photo listings (which felt so odd, like searching for a puppy at the local pound), and trying to figure out how we will ever be able to afford an adoption.

Once I, Ashley, saw Oliver’s face on RainbowKids.com, there was a spark. A connection. It was a feeling I couldn’t explain. I felt like I knew him and loved him already. I showed his profile to my husband, Andrew, and asked if we could obtain more information about him.

Andrew was apprehensive at first. Not only were we talking about a child from another country ($$$$$), but this child was diagnosed with Down syndrome and a cleft palate. It was a lot for him to take in. We did request more information on Oliver (at the time known as “Micah”), which included updated photos, a video, and vague medical records.

Oliver stole my heart that day. Watching him interact with his caregivers, scooting his little bottom across the table he sat upon, and dancing to the Chinese music the caregivers played on their iPhone. He could not have been a more perfect child for us.

After weeks of talking, researching, reassuring, and reassuring again, we submitted an application for pre-approval to adopt Oliver. China, like all countries, have guidelines for adoptive parents. One of the guidelines is that both parents have to be at least 30 years old. I will not turn 30 until August 17, 2017. Therein lies our first hurdle. What this means is that we can’t submit our dossier packet to China until July or August 2017, to ensure that they will not deny us based on the age requirement.

As of today, we are in the home study process. We are attending meetings and trainings, completing paperwork, and bracing ourselves for the agency to come to our house and tell us what isn’t “kid friendly”. 😉 It is all scary, nerve-racking, and stressful, but then we look at that face of his and it is ALL WORTH IT!!