"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Friday, January 27, 2012

For Sale

I have FOUR brand new girl's dresses for sale that I really, really need to move. If you need them, or know of anyone who needs them, it would be a big blessing.

Size 8, Linen-Cotton blend. Machine wash and dry. Buttons down back and has sash ties. By Hartstrings.

Close up of trim--accurate color is more to the left of the photo--we have a cheap camera that doesn't necessarily take that great of photos.

Next dres is by My Michelle and is a size 16 in an amazing blue velour type fabric that feels and looks wonderful. Neat neckline, long sleeves, pull-over style with thin tie sash. Long and elegant.

Close up view of flowers on bottom of skirt. These photo does NOT show the true color which is a lovely, lovely blue.

I will post info about the other two dressse later . . .
These are both available for $9.00 a piece PLUS shipping.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Educational Progress and Challenges

We have always home-schooled our children. In fact, we first were led to homeschool because of our oldest child's obvious special needs. At the time we did not have a diagnosis for him, and it took until he was 7 before we were finally able to get a diagnosis that was accurate, but we knew homeschooling was going to need to happen for him. It was a bit of radical and scary knowledge at the time, as we were members of a very conservative church that expected all members to send their children to the little church school. We knew that the school was not equipped to met our child's challenges which included health, educational and neurobiological issues that were going to mean he did not fit into a little standard box. Our choice to homeschool meant an entire change of church, the loss of a lot of our church friends from that particular denominational group and so on.

However, with God's help and the support of others who understood homeschooling we have been able to homeschool for many years now. Our oldest has graduated and is enrolled currently at a local college. Even when Kristina was added to our family, we figured out a way to make homeschooling her work. But when Katya came along, it quickly became obvious that if I was going to be able to meet each child's needs effectively Katya would need to go to school. That was a hard decision for us to make, esp. just a few short weeks after she was home, but it had to be done.

We love Katya's classroom teacher and feel very blessed that Katya has her. There are many things we appreciate about the school, and the progress they have made with Katya. However, we will frankly tell you that we DO have our challenges with them, our jaw dropping moments, and our "They said WHAT?!" times! At one point a few months ago, we had to get our home-study Social Worker involved in the situation with the school. It seems like they have taken our determination to make sure that no stone is left unturned for Katya a bit more seriously since that very  intense and unhappy meeting with our wonderful Social Worker, Paul and I in the face of SEVEN of them. (Yeah, we were seriously out-numbered!)

Part of that "leaving no stone unturned" has meant that we contacted the International Adoption Clinic that we used initially with Katya and explained the concerns and frustrations we were having and asked for some guidance. They referred us to a psychologist that they knew had extensive experience working with children that are adopted.

Paul and I drove to meet with that lady yesterday for about an hour-long meeting. I have to say that the 2.5 hour trip *one way* was worth it to both of us! We think that Dr. I. is going to be one of the best things that has happened to Katya since she is home with us! She is going to continue gathering some more information, study the records, assessments and samples of Katya's recent work and then make recommendations about testing for Katya.

She also told us that she would say based on all the things we told her and what we showed her in Katya's IEP that in order to get the amount of help that Katya needs to be a successful adult some day we will have to go completely outside of the school system and get our own independent testing and then therapy. She pointed out that the school is doing what is easiest for them and what makes school work better for them--not what is necessarily best for Katya's long-term good.

Roger that. It's what we have been saying for awhile now.

Do they care about Katya?? I have no doubt that they do. I just honestly think that they don't have the knowledge to realize how urgent it is to address the needs she has NOW and how little time there is to dicker around fighting over services and IEP's and taking a "wait and see approach" like they want to do.

I have to say, it's easy for me to see why God had me cut my teeth first on all my other children before adding Katya to my life in my 'old age'. I wouldn't have had the knowledge, the resource base, nor probably the ability to be the polite but extremely persistent advocate for Katya that I am needing to be. Also, ironic as it may be, the advent of Facebook has connected me easily and almost effortlessly with people all over the world who are praying for Katya. There are others who are founts of information and advice, and the ones who just say, "Hugs!" All of it is necessary because I have to admit that this journey we are on with Katya is a big one--a draining and tiring one. At times it totally breaks our hearts, as we watch Katya becoming more and more alive and then so very, very frustrated when it's obvious she desperately WANTS now to communicate with us far more than she has the ability to do. The look of sheer frustration in her eyes and the frantic vocalizations she makes at such a time drive me to prayer again and again.

However, it is also rich with rewards!

*The joy of seeing her now be able to write her first name and moving on to learning how to write her last name!

*The excitement of seeing new ASL signs being ones Katya  recognizes and uses to communicate.

* Hearing the Dr. yesterday say, "Based on every thing you are telling me, I'm guessing Katya's cognitive functioning is fairly good." (Yes, we think so too!)

*And still . . . as always . . . hearing her super cute giggle and knowing that it's been worth it all . . . every stress, every financial sacrifice, every loss of sleep, every bit of fear we went through due to circumstances out of our control while in Ukraine, every tough, ugly, and painful thing we have gone through so far . . . it has all been so worth it!

Katya raptly watching Curious George--we think she identifies with him since he doesn't speak--just makes noises! She has very little interest in any other movies--if she watches anything, it's usually Curious George. (Initially she had little to no interest at all in any videos, and while we don't think video watching is all that important in a child's life, it's occasionally handy when it's nap time for Dad! ;-) So we are glad she is now watching sometimes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Katya's First Christmas In America

Our Christmas 2011 was pretty quiet and simple. By choice, and by necessity. We knew Katya would likely be overwhelmed if we went in for anything big or splashy, and of course after completing an international adoption in this economy, and addressing Katya's medical needs, there wasn't a lot of "splash" available anyway. There were simple gifts, and thanks to an extremely kind blog reader, we had a lovely meal!

Even though the day started out with several of us very weary after being up with Katya in the night when she had an ear ache, and Katya herself started out the day being pretty tired and tame from it,
 it was a peaceful and happy day for us. Katya was very cuddly and enjoyed being held.

 We loved watching Katya's amazement that there was not only one package for her, but MORE packages! After she had opened several items (since she was getting gifts from siblings as well as from us) she became obviously overwhelmed--and maybe even disgusted--and went to enjoy what she had already gotten!
See the puzzle in the photo above?? She flipped all the pieces bottom side up, and proceeded to put it together that way--all brown showing! Umm, I would not have wanted to do that! I think she must enjoy a challenge, because she certainly knows how to put puzzles together right side up--and normally does it that way!

Katya opening her present from Kristina.

And the scarf from Todd. How he did it--because he says he did NOT try to do it--but he gave each one of us a perfect scarf! In Kayta's case, it perfectly went with her blue eyes and blond hair and the outfit that she had on that day!

We laughingly called her "Mary".

In the late afternoon Paul went to pick up a friend of ours who does not have the opportunity to spend holidays with family. He has become like family to us and enjoys sharing holiday meals with us. Charity and I like cooking when he is coming because he is such an appreciative guest and consumes our food with gusto.

Katya's lack of sleep due to the ear ache was catching up with her, but she revived enough to eat her first Christmas dinner cheerfully. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, cranbery sauce, a vegetable, gravy, cranberry nut salad and dessert. We had planned to do a few more dishes but after being up in the night with Katya, we were too sleepy to get done what we had planned and took a nap instead!

After supper and a early bathtime and bedtime for the tired little Miss Katya, Paul helped Chad put together his Lego set.

I will try to blog about Katya's 7th birthday soon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This Says a Lot!

All photos taken from our dining room door this week, by Charity.
In other news, Katya is busting out of most of her size 5 tops and jumpers! She is also popping out of her size 4 leggings, and they are sooo small that size 6 is really the next appropriate size for her, as long as they are not too wide in the waist. Katya still has a very, very slender waist, and I'm guessing her figure may just be that way. However, she is continuing to put on weight in all kinds of places--like her hands and feet--oh my goodness! They look soooo much better than they did when she came home!

Katya also got excited and signed "train" when she saw Chad playing with the toy train under our "New Year's Tree" (Soviet era custom which we follow since we have children adopted from two different countries that were under Soviet rule at one time). WE got excited then because Charity had only used the sign "train" with Katya a very few times, and the last time was at least a month or more ago when they had seen a real train. For Katya to have dredged that up from her memory bank and appropriately used the sign with a TOY train was very exciting to us! The ASL sign was not perfect, but it was recognizeable. And Katya was visibly thrilled when Charity said, "Yes, Katya! That is a train!"
Little Miss Katya has also become extremely affectionate with Charity! She is more affectionate right now with Charity than with any other member of the family. Charity has poured a lot of hours of loving care into her so I'm glad to see that Katya is recognizing that and reciprocating by initiating hugs with Charity. ;-) It does my Mommy heart good! I would expect that we will continue to see her become increasingly affectionate with other members of the family as time moves on.
Katya celebrated Christmas AND her birthday last month. She is now 7. I hope to post photos from both of those events another day.
Thank you again to all who have been praying and supporting our family in our journey with Katya--those who have helped financially, emotionally, with prayers and love, in practical ways with clothing etc., phone calls to let us know you care--we appreciate it ALL sooo much! We can not do this without the loving help of God and His people! Thank you!