Monday, August 21, 2017

Long Overdue Update

Life has been flying by but I'm loving every minute of it. I will update on Octavia but first, I want to share some exciting news! I'm happy to say that because of me, my mom, and my advocacy, my mom is in the process of adopting a 15-year-old girl with Down syndrome! She has submitted her dossier and is anxiously awaiting travel dates for her first trip. You can follow her journey at 

June marked 18 months since Octavia came home! It meant our fourth post placement was due, here some highlights I mentioned on our post adoption report:

Since last July, Octavia has participated in weekly early intervention through Early On services offered by our local school district. Since she is now 2 1/2, she is able to enroll in the school district's special education preschool program and her first day is next week! Octavia is incredibly social and I am hoping that she loves school as much as I did when I was a child.

A picture of us from the local Down syndrome association's 3/21 party.
Since Octavia's tear duct surgery in October, the issue got worse in her left eye and she had surgery to correct the issue again in May. During this surgery, they placed a stent into the tear duct to help it drain properly. The stent has since been removed and the surgery seems to have been successful. We will follow up with her ophthalmologist in January to check in and make sure everything still looks good.

After her stent was put in. No more tears!

In February, we took a trip to the cardiologist and he said that everything looks good. He did not perform an EKG but will perform one at her next appointment. In 2 years! She does not have to go back for TWO years! So exciting!

When it comes to speech, she's continually learning more words and sounds. She has 40+ words in her vocabulary but is selective as to when she wants to use some. A few words that she uses on a regular basis include hug, bye, hi, more, and done. She also knows the signs for "more" and "done" and will use them appropriately. Even though most of her words are one syllable, she does say "Where is it?", "Who is it?" and "What is it?" on a regular basis.
She loves to read.

We are currently working on potty training (slowly but surely), fine motor skills, language development, and self care.

Octavia eats well. Her favorite foods are chicken, pasta/potatoes, and cheese. She also likes ice cream! She does well with trying new foods and isn't a very picky eater.

Her first ice cream cone!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Then I Met You

Before I committed to adopting a child, the words “Down syndrome” were scary. I had no idea what the diagnosis would entail other than what I’d seen and read online. I didn’t know exactly what the community support system would be like. I didn’t understand what all of the (potential) therapies meant.
Before I committed to adopting you, the words “Atrial Septal Defect” were scary. I didn’t think I wanted to adopt a child who had a heart defect and might need surgery. The words heart defect sounded incredibly intimidating. I didn’t know what doctor’s appointments would be like. I didn’t know whether or not you would need surgery. Then, I met you.

I couldn’t stop thinking about your face. How incredibly sad you looked in your referral picture. Even though the diagnoses of Down syndrome and Atrial Septal Defect were scary, I didn't let that stop me from loving you. You are so much more than a medical diagnosis. You are my intelligent, charismatic, determined and imaginative girl who's brightened my world. I am incredibly blessed to call you my daughter.
You have been my daughter for one whole year (plus a few days) and I am thankful for every single one of those days.
It can be incredibly scary to think about caring for a child who has "special needs" but if you give it a chance, it will be okay. Octavia isn't any different than any other 2-year-old. Yes, it may take her longer to learn some things, but she is still a capable and strong little girl. Our children are so much more than a medical diagnosis. If you're expecting a child with Down syndrome or considering adopting, please know that it will be okay.

Just before Gotcha Day!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Happy Birthday! + Updates

This determined, delightful, and spirited little girl turned two on Thursday! She's turning into such a confident and sensitive girl, she amazes me every day. She's walking, talking more and more, and enjoys being read to.

We invited a few family members over yesterday for a small birthday party.

At the beginning of October, Octavia had a probe of her tear ducts and was supposed to have tubes put in but her tear ducts were too small for the tubes. The probe itself is supposed to be 75% effective, compared to the probe and tubes was supposed to be 85% effective. She still has some tearing but the doctor said that it's likely how she will be since her tear ducts are small. If it gets worse, we're supposed to go back to the ophthalmologist. In the picture below, you can see a little bit of tearing in her right eye.

The weather ended up being nice for the Step Up for Down Syndrome walk that we participated in last month. Here are two pictures that were taken by the local Down syndrome association.

Octavia loves to play in the leaves outside! 

For Halloween, Octavia dressed as a bumblebee. She was the cutest bumblebee you will ever see! We went trick-or-treating and she LOVED walking around the neighborhood and knocking on people's doors. She loves to knock on doors and windows, even if we're at home!

Since the weather has been usually nice this fall, we went to the zoo last weekend. The animals that were still out were loving the cooler weather and we got some good views of the bear and tigers. Octavia seemed to enjoy the zoo quite a bit!

I think that's all of the Octavia spam for today! She's growing and thriving! 

I was going through my emails on Friday and realized that 11/11 was the one year anniversary of when the agency wanted me to give them my preferred travel dates and her new name. It's crazy to think that one year ago, she wasn't yet my legal daughter. It feels like she's spent her entire life in my care.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day 23: Special Pediatrician?

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Day 23

Does my child with Down syndrome need a special pediatrician?

For routine care, a child with Down syndrome does not need to be seen by any sort of specialist, a regular doctor is just fine! The most important thing is to fine a doctor you are comfortable with and who is willing to learn with you.

Day 22: Always Happy?

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 22

Aren't people with Down syndrome always happy?

This is a common myth about Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome experience a full range of emotions just like anyone else. They respond to positive expressions of friendship and they are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior.

Octavia can be happy, sad, grumpy, upset, angry, and anything in between. She is just like any typically developing child in that she has a range of emotions and different things can upset her. When she's not feeling well, she can let you know.

Playing in the leaves makes her happy!

Day 21: Book Recommendations

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 21

What are some good books to read about raising a child with Down syndrome?

Here are a few recommended books on Down syndrome for parents:

Recommended books for children:

Day 20: Number of Orphans with Down Syndrome Internationally

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 20

Internationally, how many children with Down syndrome are in orphanages?

In Central and Eastern European countries (excluding Russia), there are more than 1.5 MILLION children who have been placed in "public care". Since we know that statistically, Down syndrome occurs in roughly 1 in every 700 pregnancies, it is estimated that over 2,100 of these children have Down syndrome. Yes, some families try to keep their child born with Down syndrome but that is the rare exception, rather than the rule. Some of these 2,100 children do not survive because of serious medical complications, some because of a lack of medical attention, lack of food, or a lack of love.

In Russia, there are over 700,000 children waiting for families, meaning there are at least 1,000 children with Down syndrome waiting for families.

In Asia (China, Hong Kong, Korea, and India), there are at least 3.5 million orphans, which equates to about 5,000 children with Down syndrome living in orphanages.

In total, that's an estimated 8,100 children with Down syndrome who live in orphanages!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day 19: Down Syndrome and Adoption

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 19

Why are there so many children with Down syndrome waiting to be adopted outside the United States?

The simple answer is that there are so many children waiting because these countries don't do prenatal screening so the parents do not know ahead of time that their child will be born with Down syndrome. Since they don't know about it ahead of time, they cannot abort their child.

The more in depth answer is that in many of these countries, children with special needs are seen as a stain on the family line and if they're not given up for adoption, it can be virtually impossible for the other children in the family to get married and have families of their own.

In addition to this, there is also the fact that many of these countries don't have the medical technology that we have readily available and even if they wanted to keep their child, they'd have a hard time finding and affording medical care or occupational therapy.

No matter how much parents might want to keep their child, they sometimes do so for the simple fact that the child will have a better chance to live if they're adopted internationally.

Outside St. Hripsime Church

Day 19: RODS

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 19

RODS - Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome

Did you know that there is an organization with the mission of nurturing a positive image of Down syndrome and to promote for the adoption of orphans with Down syndrome? They do this by raising adoption grant funds (one child at a time) and participating in organized, athletic races, and awareness events. This organization is called RODS, Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for each child they fund raise for.

To date, they've raised funds for: 15 children who are now home, 5 children who are in the process of being adopted, and 2 children who are still waiting for their forever families. This means their current child is #23!

One of the families in the process of adopting a girl from Octavia's country found their daughter while she was a RODS child! Sponsor Hadley has more of their story!

The current RODS orphan is Asher and he sure is a sweetie! Here's Asher's Reece's Rainbow page.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Day 18: What's My Favorite Thing?

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 18

What's my favorite thing about Octavia?

My favorite thing about Octavia is her personality. She always finds a way to be funny and light up my day. A few pictures that show off her personality:

When did books become a food group?!

Yes, that's my child! ;)

Sitting in a bin of clothes because why not?!

She's cool!

Octavia is not defined by Down syndrome. She is so much more. If you're expecting a child with Down syndrome, please know that your child's value is so much more than you could possibly imagine!