Friday, June 26, 2009

The First Day.....and the Last Day

The first picture is Emma on the first day of school. The second was taken this morning, her last day of grade one. She may not look a whole lot different, but my goodness, how she's changed! I can see the difference just in her eyes. On the first day of school, she was afraid, apprehensive and quiet. Now it's quite the opposite. Her smile and energy light up the room when she walks in. And even though she is still immature for her age, she seems so much more grown up to me than when we brought her home!

Today I took the day off work to join Emma for a picnic lunch at school. She's not used to seeing me at school anymore since I've been back to work...only to drop her off in the mornings. It was so awesome when she opened her classroom door to find me standing outside. She screamed so loud, I think the whole school could probably hear, "My MOMMY's here!!!!" She ran to me and wrapped her arms around my waist for a tight squeeze. She then proceeded to run to the office and other classrooms to tell everyone that her mommy was there. I stood there, maybe a little bit proud, as other moms watched and wondered what I did to make my kid so excited to see me. Sigh...that's my girl...I love her so much!

I was strangely emotional today, being it's the last day of school. I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that for the next two months Emma will be at home and I'll be at work. A few weeks ago, I eluded to something major happening at work. Some of you out there knew what was going on, but I tried to keep it under wraps until I knew what the outcome would be. The outcome of what you ask? After meeting with Emma's teachers and adoption pediatrician, we were advised that I should stay home with Emma over the summer. Our adoption specialist thinks that if we were to stick Emma with a new full-time caregiver, she would totally regress in her attachment. And the teachers at school strongly recommended we keep a school routine over the summer, so Emma does not lose what she has learned through the school year. So, we knew a sitter was not an option. I had letters from both the school and Emma's doctor, strongly supporting my leave of absense for the summer. SO, after I had been back to work for a month, I figured it was time to spring it on my managers. Somehow I had convinced myself that they would completely understand and I wouldn't have any problems. After all, they managed without me for a year, did they not? Boy, was I wrong! I was shot down so fast, I couldn't even believe it. They didn't even want to see the letters I brought in. I left their office devestated and totally p*$$*d off!

I couldn't post about this right after it happened, as I was likely to type something that could get me in a lot of hot water, possibly even getting me fired if someone from work happened to be reading this. Yes, that's how mad I was. Terry and I seriously considered me resigning. In fact, before I met with the managers, we had decided I would resign if they said no. But when the time came, I just couldn't do it. Why? I couldn't tell you. Every bone in my body wanted to quit right then and there, but I guess I didn't want to make a decision knowing how emotional I was at that moment. When I got home that night, Terry was glad I didn't quit. After we sat down and seriously considered our options, we realized me quitting my job was not one of them. :( It's not like it was a year ago, where you could go anywhere and get a job. It was too large of a risk for me, not knowing if I'd be able to find a job come September. Especially since things have been so flaky for Terry at work in this economic downturn. He is working far less hours than he used to and we just can't afford to live on only his income at this point. On top of it all, my rheumatologist wants to put me on some new medication that he is telling me will cost 10K a month!! The medication, however, is covered by my benefits at work. So, there you have it. I'm trapped there!

Don't get me wrong.... I really DO enjoy my job. I've been there for years, and I think I do a pretty good job. I've felt a real sense of accomplishment since I've been back and, of course, I'm happy to be making money again. :) It took a little while, but I've come to terms with the fact that I have to work this summer. So, now the question....what are we going to do with Emma? Well, if she can't have mommy, she can have the next best thing....daddy! Yeah, that's right. Terry's staying home (lucky bugger) His boss had no qualms about giving him the summer off. In fact, he has to hire someone to replace Terry for two months, since Terry is the only one in the shop who does his job. And, they are giving him the time as a temporary layoff, so he'll be able to collect EI. Not that it will even come close to replacing his wage, but it's better than nothing. We'll be back to pinching pennies again. :)

It won't be all fun and games for Terry and Emma this summer. As I mentioned, he will be setting up a daily routine (that's the plan, anyway) to keep Emma on top of her school work. We met with Emma's teachers a few days ago and decided to have Emma repeat grade one. Even though she has made a lot of progress in the last year, she still is not at a kindergarten level. It'll be interesting to see if the one-on-one teaching will work better for her during the summer.

We talked to the school about getting Emma more one-on-one help at school next year. Two hours a week just isn't cutting it. What a HUGE frustration!!! This year we were told that Emma needs a psycological evaluation to determine where she's at to get her the extra help. Unfortunately, the school would not do the testing due to the "language barrier." When we brought it up the other day, we were assured by the school that Emma has been immersed in enough english and that they would do the testing on her first thing next school year. I was so relieved to hear this, until the teachers informed us that even when Emma takes the test, she probably will not qualify for extra help. WHAT!?! Apparently, receiving aides is not based on your kid's learning ablilities. Only kids who aren't toilet trained or have severe behavioural issues qualify for aides. In fact, the teachers informed us that the help Emma received this year was far more than what she qualified for. I just don't get it! She has severe learning delays and she is an ESL student......and you're telling me she doesn't qualify for 2 hours a week?!? I can't believe how much our school system is failing our children. Terry and I aren't leaving this one alone. We'll keep trying to talk to higher ups until someone is willing to listen and give Emma the help she requires.

Well, that's all for now. I'm going to try and convince Terry that it's his turn to keep up the blog since today is his last day of work. He probably won't comply, so my posts may be few and far between this summer. I need to spend some time working on Emma's one year post-placement report for the Ukraine government. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Year Ago......

My, how time flies!

One year ago today, right at this very minute, Terry and I were cramped on a run-down, over-crowded plane somewhere over the ocean. We were heading for another country, or what seemed like another world, to embark on the wildest journey we could ever imagine. Who would have thought that exactly one year later, I'd be tucking my little angel all snug into bed, receiving a shower of hugs and kisses and "I love you mommy!" Who would have thought I'd be dealing with runny noses and scraped knees? Attending dance recitals and preparing for end of school parties? I'm still amazed at how much our lives have changed, yet somehow it's so natural it's as if we've been doing it forever.

Remembering our journey, once again, gives me a true appreciation of being home. It's funny, when we travelled to Calgary a couple weeks ago, I began to have some very vivid memories of our travel to Ukraine. Pulling out those suitcases, which were pristine a year ago, now tattered and dirty after being dragged all around Ukraine. As I packed, I remembered how much I hated living out of a suitcase, yet I am now very good at it.

Unfortunately, our travels to Ukraine do not bring fond memories. The sting of all the trials we went through are somewhat faded, but still overshadow our thoughts as we remember. But, our trials were not in vain. We are blessed to have such a light in our lives come from Ukraine. And not all memories are bad. We met some truly amazing people in Ukraine. Our facilitator and his family, whom we had only had email communication with for the previous two and a half years before our trip, seemed like old friends when we finally met in person. Our American friends, who God truly blessed us with. We were so thankful to share our journey and have the support of another english speaking family. The kids at the orphanage...brings tears to my eyes just to think of them...we had some incredible fun getting to know and spend time with them. How I pray that they all find their forever families. And we also met many people along the way, who despite the language barrier, went out of their way to show us extra hospitality. Gee, maybe the trip wasn't so bad! :)

I'm just a lot happier knowing we'll be spending our summer on Canadian soil this year!