We have been asked a LOT of questions over these last few weeks. I tried to make a list, but I may have missed a few. These are a little all over the place, but I wanted to answer them the best I could.
What did you like most/least about Ukraine?
There wasn't really anything I didn't like about Ukraine specifically. It's just different! It is not an easy country to adopt from and there were definitely some frustrations throughout the process, but the country and the people were very interesting and I loved the experience over-all. Living in a foreign country and being there alone was tough. Really tough. But that would be true anywhere that I didn't speak the language and wasn't familiar with the customs, foods, etc. I will (do?) miss it. Ukraine is such a huge part of our life now. It's my daughter's country, so I hold it dear to my heart and feel sort of protective of it in a way.
What do you wish you had taken with you?
More food. More entertainment. Really. You need to pack as light as possible, you WILL be carrying *everything* you bring up and down a bajillion flights of stairs, every time you move (five times for me), on planes, on trains, in cars. You want to have a little as possible for those reasons. I took books and tons of movies, but still... there is SO much down time. And we went thru our snacks rather quickly. Lots of eat and run moments or sometimes you need something to hold you over for a while. Other than sweets and fruit, you can't buy many snacky items in the stores, in my experience. Granola bars, trail mix, etc really came in handy a few times and I wish we'd had more of it.
What did you take that you didn't need?
We took towels, linens, and a blanket- none of which we needed. There were plenty provided for us. I sent some of my clothes home with Nathan. It's not fun to wear the same 2-3 things over and over again, but it's worth it to have more room in your bag for all the "extras". We also took converters, extension cords, power strips, duct tape, zip ties, ziplock bags and other odds and ends and used EVERY one of them. Also, we only packed travel size toiletries to get us there, bought what we needed in country and then left it there. Toiletries take up too much space! I left a huge bag of stuff (mostly clothes) behind that I didn't need/have room for on the trip home. At that point, as long as AG and I got home, I didn't care about anything else. Even our coats stayed behind!
Are you involved in any kind of support group?
In a word, yes. I participate in several online forums for adoptive parents, parents who adopted from Ukraine, and parents who adopted thru Reece's Rainbow. We were also welcomed with open arms into a support group for parents of children with DS in middle TN. We have already met several of the other families in person (from one group or another) and have plans to meet many more in the near future. Already, these groups have been invaluable when it comes to asking our own questions and learning others' experiences.
What therapies does/will Anna Gray receive?
We have just started getting the ball rolling to figure out what specifically she would benefit from. Actually, there was a cancellation at the Down Syndrome Clinic at Vandy and we will be spending tomorrow there starting bright and early. While we are there, she will be seen by a geneticist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, nutritionist, speech therapist, and behaviorist all in one day. It's gonna be a long one! And overwhelming, I'm sure. We will see how each initial assesment goes and go from there. Friday, she has her cardio consult. We are still waiting to hear back from TEIS (early intervention).
What were your total fees and were you fully-funded?
Our total fees ended up being about $22-23K and no, we were not fully funded.
We spent $7K of our own money up front. We fundraised our butts off , picked up extra shifts, and re-organized our budget to raise another $5K. We ended up getting a loan for the remaining $10K. THEN, while in country when we needed help getting home (and in gifts since then), you guys stepped up in a crazy loving way and provided another $4K+. We now only have a little more than $5K left to pay on our adoption loan. And let me just go on the record and say SHE'S WORTH IT!
How long did it take?
You can see the details on bottom right of the blog, but basically it was 7 months almost to the day from the day we officially committed to her to our appointment at the DAP. We were home exactly six weeks later :)
I know there are more and I plan to do a part 2. I need to get in bed so I can survive tomorrow, but please continue to send your questions. We don't mind answering them at all :)
Also, some fun posts coming soon :) I promise I'm trying to catch up! It turns out, having four kids doesn't leave a whole lot of extra time for blogging! Hang in there, friends!