Monday, April 4, 2011

Update on us

Sorry it's been so long since I have blogged. Things are pretty busy around here most days. Here is a long overdue update on our family - it is going to be open and honest because there are things I feel like I am needing to get off my chest.

Things have been pretty rough for us financially. Joe's work (he is in construction) has been SSSLLLLLOOOOOOWWWW for the last two years and that has really hurt us. The other thing that really hurt us is that we made mistakes big time with our finances when he was working a lot. It is hard to admit that, but it's the truth. We lived outside of our means and got caught up in having "things", which is really not what is important. Our house is too big and too expensive, our taxes are too high, etc., etc., etc. We are making due, but I'm not sure how much longer we can go on like this. The problem is with the way the housing market is and the way the economy is, we couldn't sell our house for enough to break even let alone have enough left for a down payment on something else. I don't want the mistakes that we have made to affect our children, so we try very hard to keep things good for them. We are blessed to have family that is way too good to us and I know I could never repay them, not only financially but emotionally what they have given to us. So, our family could use some prayers in this regard.

Now, enough of the negative, on to the best part of my life - my girls!

Morgan - Morgan is doing great! She is approaching the end of second grade with flying colors. She has such a personality and it's great to watch her grow up. She still loves cheerleading and we are actually leaving this weekend for her big competition in Virginia Beach. She is my funny girl and keeps me smiling even when I don't feel like it.

Victoria - Victoria is doing very well. She is happy and healthy. She has decided that soccer is her sport and is looking forward to it starting again this fall. I will break her down into a few categories for a more detailed explanation of how things are with her.

1. Medically - we could not ask for things to be better with her. She is still on the same medications (the ones we started after the allergic reaction to the first ones) and doing great. Her CD4 counts are still very high and her viral load continues to be undetectable. I hope we are able to stick with this medication combination for a while because it is so easy. She only has to take 1 1/2 pills once a day, which she swallows right down, and she has no side effects at all. We have an appointment with a pediatric neurologist on May 2nd. This is basically just to get a base line and see if there are any concerns. Due to Victoria's history (born at 26 weeks, brain bleed at birth, prenatally drug exposed, exposed to HIV for four years without medication) we just want to make sure that we do not overlook anything that would be better off addressed earlier rather than later in life. I will update about that appt. after it happens.

2. Education - Victoria is doing okay with education over all. She has shown progress in many areas, but seems to be struggling a bit now that the concepts are getting harder (using letter sounds to make words, temperature, time, money, etc.). We have talked with her teacher quite a bit and decided that she will repeat kindergarten next year. We are not sure how much is just that she needs more time, how much is because she on the younger side (late July birthday) and how much may be a true learning issue. So, if they see she is still struggling next year they will not wait long to test her and start her with special needs classes if needed. She is going to go to the english as a second language class next year, which I hope will help. It is a smaller class and she will get more attention. To me I feel like she has issues with processing and retention. We can go over and over the same thing for so long and then two minutes later it's like she has never heard it before. Her teacher described her as someone that is not an active thinker. For example if you show her the word cat and ask her what it is she will say something like pig without even thinking about it. But if you ask her what does pig start with she will tell you P. Do you see a P in this word? No. So, can it be pig? No. What letter does it start with? C. What sound does C make? C. Do you hear a C sound in Pig? No. So, the word can't be pig. Why don't you try sounding it out. Oh, it's cat. You physically have to go through the thought process with her to make her think about things. I guess only time will tell how this will all play out.

3. Behavior - This is the hardest thing for me, because it seems like Victoria's behavior is getting worse with time instead of better. Don't get me wrong, it is not anything major. We have all heard the stories of families that deal with RAD, and other similar problems and my heart goes out to them. I thank God that we do not have those types of severe behaviors, but it can still be frustrating at times. Victoria is very bonded to us and is very loving and affectionate. She plays wonderfully with Morgan (they do have the occasional normal "sister" arguements) and is not a bad kid. She just has been lying a lot about things that aren't even really significant, she doesn't follow directions in school and doesn't seem to really even care. Consequences don't seem to mean anything to her. She gets on the traffic light at school a lot and really seems like she could care less. She knows all the right answers when you ask her what she should have been doing, what happens when she misbehaves, etc. but really doesn't care. We have tried taking away toys, time outs, no dessert, early bed time, but she's just like okay whatever (she doesn't actually say that it's just the way it seems to me since nothing really fazes her). We have also tried a reward system for the days when she does behave and follow all the rules, but it never seems to last too long. I don't worry so much about the things that she is doing as a five year old, but what will happen when she is 15 and doesn't care about consequences.

I know things could be much worse for us, but this is where I see the difference in our biological children vs. our adopted child. I know everything that has happened every single day of Morgan's life, so I know what "makes her tick" so to speak. I know how to get her to pay attention when I mean business and she gets it when she is in trouble. It is hard not knowing the first four years of your child's life. It's funny when people ask me about Victoria's HIV. I almost laugh, because her HIV is the least of the things I think about with her.

Avery - oh my sweet, sweet baby! I can't believe she is going to be four months old this week. Where does time go? Avery is generally a very good, happy girl. She is very social and loves to be out and about where she gets lots of attention. She "talks" to all the moms at cheerleading practice. She loves to babble, loves to eat her hands and loves to stick out her tongue. She has rolled over a few times from her stomach to her back and gets about 75% of the way over from her back to her belly. She is big!

We have been so lucky that all of our girls have been very, very healthy. We haven't had more than mild colds the whole school year so far.

So, if anyone has made it this far, your reward is pictures and a little video of Avery "talking".

Morgan finally lost her other front upper tooth - she is now sporting the huge gap in the front look.

Victoria - aka my boy. I joke that Victoria is my "boy" because it seems like she is always getting hurt. It is funny because she loves dresses and sparkly things and baby dolls, but she is rough like a boy. I guess it comes from 4 years of living with mostly boys. She is now sporting the I got in a fight with Mike Tyson aka the corner of the kitchen table look. She whacked the side of her eye (where the red mark is) on the corner of the kitchen table Tuesday night. Wednesday morning she woke up with this beautiful shinner.

Avery - my sweet chunky monkey! I am enjoying every minute of this baby.


  1. Hmmm, is her school using a multisensory approach? I teach kids who have issues with decoding. If she has retention issues she definitely needs multisensory. It'll build connections that she wouldn't build otherwise. If you want to talk school stuff feel free to email me! nobabynoblog at gmail dot com

  2. Our 5 yr old has similar behavioral problems. Thru much research I found a fantastic FAS management cliic here in GA(it is a sub-clinic or our Autism Center). The FAS team consists of 5-6 specialist working together under one roof to fully evaluate children exposed to drugs/alcohol. Our daughter was seen by a doc specializing in FAS disorder, an education specialist, social worker, psychologist, and neurologist. They all worked together to provide a comprehensive report with an outline of resources available to help our family. I did a little googling to see if your state NJ? had something similar and found this site If this is not helpful trying searching for FAS/FAE under your states Autism program. Paula

  3. Hi Jamie! Aunt Barb here. Know that I am thinking about you and praying for you. Miss you and love you all.

  4. I don't know if this link will work but if not just search for the article "the visible kid with the invisible disability" I sure you will be able to relate. We also adopted two from Ukraine Victoria sounds much like our 7 year old.

  5. Good to get an update! I'm sorry I have been so bad at following your journey...I'll be praying about the finances and Victoria's issues also.

  6. Hi I would love to get in contact with you to ask you a question about adopting form the Ukraine. If you have a minute would you mind emailing me at Thank you!

  7. Hi
    My name is Jenna and I came across your site. your girls are beautiful, precious gifts and special earthly angels. They all have pretty smiles. That's awesome that Morgan loves cheerleading, how is she doing in school this year? Is she in grade 3? I am happy that Victoria was healthy and doing well, when you updated in April, is she still healthy and doing well? I hope so. That's great that she is playing soccer. How is her learning going? She is a courageous, strong and determined fighter. She is a brave warrior, smilen champ and an inspirational hero. Avery is a cutie and adoreble. It is so awesome that she is talking lots.
    I was born with a rare life threatening disease, developmental delays, and 12 other diagnosis. I love it when people sign my guestbook.

  8. I hope you keep posting! Love your blog!

  9. Hi! My name is Natalie McLaughlin and I found your blog via a few other websites. My husband and I are considering adopting an HIV positive baby and I would love to chat with you either by phone or by email. Could you possibly email me if you would be open to that. Thank you and I look forward to chatting in the future. My email is

  10. So sad your blog dropped off.... I am so curious how you family is faring these days... Your WHOLE family. I hope you consider picking it up again.

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  14. Its a wonder that Morgan looked so happy back then but now.....she has crippling depression