Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Answering some questions

Since we have started the process to bring Jackson home, we have been asked many questions about our adoption and adoption in general so I wanted to make a blog post to answer them.

Question from Penny
Do you have more pictures of Jackson? I adore seeing them. how often do they send them? Also, have you raised the money you were needing to for the adoption, or do you have a web page devoted?

Penny, we do have several pictures of him, although, this is not typical because some people only have one or two pictures of their child. I'm pretty sure that we won't get any more pictures of him before we travel because there are no other parents going to his orphanage soon. Typically, when there is a child being adopted from there or if the facilitator is headed to the orphanage for getting new files of children, they will take a new picture.

We need about $25,000 to cover the cost of his adoption. We still have about $18,000 left to fundraise/save. This blog and facebook is where we are doing our fundraising. We also have a link on Reece's Rainbow for tax-deductible donations through them. We will not get any of that money until we have an appointment date in Jackson's country.

Question from Holly
How do they do your homestudy? How much have y'all "spent" already...or how much money has been due so far and for what? In order to meet income requirements, do they (the powers that be) need to see tax returns and how many years back? What steps did you have to complete to be officially committed to Jackson?

I'm not sure if this is typical but our home study seemed very laid back. I think that it had a lot to do with our social worker's personality. She made us feel at ease. She came to our house twice. The first visit was with only Joe and I. She asked us some questions about why we were interested in adopting and we signed several forms. We paid her for the home study ($1400) and scheduled our next visit where she would meet our girls. The whole visit lasted about 1.5 hours.

We have spent about $4,700 so far and ONLY $1,400 has come from our savings. People have been so gracious and kind lifting us up when we needed it. The start-up costs were about $5000 (committment fees, home study, medicals, apostilling (fancy gold stamp that makes the paperwork offical), notarizing) and the rest is spent in-country (flights, facilitator fees, lodging, food, etc).

Yes, you have to have the previous year's tax return. You turn in the front 2 pages- signed and dated, and you get a cover sheet notarized stating that is your real return.

To be offically committed to him, we had to sign and have notarized the committment forms with Reece's Rainbow and send $1275 ($1000 promise trust- shows that we mean business ;) and that comes back to us when we travel as well, $25 to open our Family Sponorship Profile Page, and $250 donation to the Voice of Hope Fund) We also had to be in contract with our social worker so that was other forms to fill out as well as a $150 check. Reece's Rainbow asks that you have that done within 10 days.

Question from Deidra
How do you compare awaiting the arrival of an adopted child to awaiting the arrival of a child in the womb?

There are many ways that it *is* like a pregnancy. I've actually had some weird cravings during this process (corn with hot sauce anyone?), but with adoption, there is a whole lot of hurry up and wait. In pregnancy, you have a typical timeframe which is somewhere between 8-10 months. In adoption, you are at the mercy of many other people, many who you will never see or meet in your lifetime, who have to all somehow work together with you to get the job done. I may never meet or even speak to the person who puts the gold apostilles on our paperwork which is the last step before we send said paperwork to Jackson's country. I can pray that she doesn't accidently spill her coffee on them and that she gets the job done in a timely manner but it's out of my hands. In pregnancy, you can kind of let the doctor know what you are comfortable with. If you choose not to do certain prenatal testing or choose not to find out the gender before the baby is born, or choose not to have an epidural, then that is your choice. The doctor can recommend for you to do these things, but you don't have to do them. For an adoption, there really isn't a list of things that you choose or don't choose to do, rather, there is a list of things that you simply MUST accomplish in order to get your child home. When I was pregnant, MY belly grew. Now, that we're adopting, Joe's belly is growing... (*just wanted to throw some humor in there...Don't kill me!)

Question from Melina
How are you preparing the girls for your new arrival?

It's kind of funny. There was no real 'You're going to have a brother! We are adopting!' moment. If anyone knows me, you know that this isn't really a surprise that we are adopting. At first, Joe and I decided that we weren't going to tell the girls that we were adopting until after the first visit with our social worker, just in case. A couple days before our visit, Aislinn was holding a picture of our boy and said "Mom, can we pleaaasssse adopt Darren?" I said, "Do you really want him to be your brother?" and she of course said yes. I told her that we were adopting him and she jumped up and down and ran to Tristen's room to tell her. Tristen said really loudly, "FINALLY! What took Daddy so long?!?!" They are both really excited. When I show his picture to Linden and say, "Who is that," she says "JackTHon" with her little lisp.

iPad2 winner!

I haven't been able to blog in almost a month because we had some keys missing on our keyboard and I couldn't finish many words! Haha.

Things are going along steadily. Jackson's country is currently 'closed' [for the holidays] so that means our dossier/paperwork won't be accepted until after February 2012. We have some time ;) Right now, we are waiting for our FBI clearance to come through. We were told that it could take up to 12 weeks and it has been 5 weeks since we sent it off.

Our iPad2 fundraiser was a success! We had over 290 entries and raised $1353!!! $700 of that was sent in within the last 10 hours of the fundraiser! Linden chose a winner and the winner of the 32gb iPad2 is....


Congratulations, Janice! Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for making our fundraiser such a success! We seriously could not do it alone. We appreciate each and every single one of you who have prayed, donated, advocated, and have supported us in other ways.

Joe and Bianca

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adoption - a Sibling's Perspective

Many of you may not know that my husband, Joe, is adopted. His birth mom died unexpectedly when he was only 11 months old and her sister, Carol and Carol's husband, Chuckie took Joe and his brother, Sean (4 at the time) as their own. At the time, they had three of their own children under five years old(Sam, Rhiannon, and April) and Carol was pregnant with their fourth child, Paulette. Youngest brother, Luke, came a couple years later, bringing the grand total to seven kids.

Paulette never knew her life without her 'adopted' siblings, so to her, they were no different than her biological siblings. Their parents treated and loved all of the children the same. When we told her that we were adopting Jackson, she was very excited, as was the rest of the family, and woke up one morning with something on her heart that she needed to share.

This is her account of what it was like growing up in a family with adopted siblings.
And please forgive me for the upside down pictures, photobucket is just not my friend today. :)

I would like to share my story about how adoption changed my life and why I think
it is so important. Although it is amazing to give a child a better life then they my have, you may also be giving your child a best friend for life; someone who protects you and looks out for you, someone who has your back no matter what. Let me tell you about my adopted brother. I have four brothers, only one which is fully biological, I can sit here and explain how, but that is so unimportant to me. I adore all of them. The only difference between them is how they were brought on this earth. They were loved the same, cared for the same and brought into my family even before I was.


My brother, Joseph, used to check on me all the time. When I got my first heartbreak he drove all around town and found me and asked me to get in his car. He wanted to make sure that I was ok. This is something he did on every occassion that I can remember having a hard time. He made me laugh so hard until I cried. He would tell me if he felt I was hanging around the wrong people and try to steer me in the right direction. Of course I would roll my eyes and pretend I thought he was wrong, but the truth is that I respected him, so I would listen and he was usually right. I was a pretty annoying teenager.(lol) I would walk around our house singing extremely loud all the time. Instead of him screaming at me, like all of my other siblings, (haha) he would make a beat on the drums for me. How many older brother do you know that let their younger sister hang out with them and their friends? I love all of my siblings, but sometimes it's hard to find your place in such a big family, especially as a young adult.


The hardest time of our lives was losing our mother. She was the most amazing woman we knew, always helping other people. She loved everyone and showed us a tremedous amount of unconditional love. Now at any age it is hard to lose your mother, but at the young age that we were was very confusing. We were still trying to find ourselves. Somehow, Joseph always had a way of checking on me when I needed him most. I did not even have to call. This is someone who lost both of his mothers and he was worried about us. This really made me realize what an awesome job our parents did raising all of us. To have such a strong bond and affection for each other.


I am so happy the he and Bianca are adopting now. I am anxious to see how Jackson affects their family and hear all of their storie because I am sure my parents had so many stories to tell with that many children.(lol) Now I am sure I had plenty of fights with my brother, but honestly I can not tell you any because I only remember the good times. I remember having someone who did not judge me for my faults. Someone who made me laugh and feel like I fit in. I could not picture my life any differently. I actually might have had a harder time as a teenager. My parents gave me a best friend and a brother. I know that Bianca and Joe will bring the same joy and happiness to their children by adopting.

Joe and Paulette as teens

1/2 of the siblings -- We were in Boston, MA for Linden's 2nd heart surgery [that she didn't have to have.]
Joe (holding Linden), Me (Bianca), Luke, Paulette and Rhiannon at Fenway Park

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Would you like to win an iPad2?

We knew that when we committed to Jackson that we were going to have to do some fundraising. So far, every penny that we have needed has been there. People have been so gracious and giving to us and we are so appreciative. We are thankful that people want to see Jackson come home. We made $280 on our keychain fundraiser which will be on-going until he comes home. We love YOU being a part of his story!

It's time for another FUNdraiser! For a $10 or more donation, you are entered into a drawing to win a brand new 32 GB iPad2 with wifi valued at $599 (first prize) or a Scentsy gift set valued at $100 (second prize).


The winner can choose either a black or white iPad2! It will be brand new shipped from the manufacturer to the winner's doorstep! The drawing for this giveaway will be December 1, 2011.

$10 donation- gets you 1 chance.
$20 donation- 3 chances
$50 donation- 7 chances!
$100 donation- 12 chances!

If you donate AND post on facebook or on your blog, I will put your name in for another chance! Please let me know if you do.

Please use the red chip-in on the right for the donations to this fundraiser.

These donations are not tax deductible.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Why not a child from the US?

Ever since we have announced that we're adopting Jackson, we have been asked (by people who I am sure mean well) several times:

"Why don't you just adopt a child from the U.S.?"

"Why go 'over there' when there are so many kids 'over here'?"

The answer is: Because that's where our son is. Seriously. That's it. We love this little boy. We want this little boy. It's not about where he is. We feel as though God has lead us to Jackson. This is about giving him the family that he needs. An orphanage is no place for any child. See, in his country, children with special needs (like Down syndrome) are given up at birth. It's believed that there is no place for them in society. They are put into orphanages and if they are not adopted by the age of four, they are transferred to a mental institution. Many of them die in the first year. No child should live that way, but it's the cold hard facts. I could never live with myself if we could have done something to save Jackson and we didn't. If he got transferred to a place like that, I couldn't handle it. I have a mama's heart for him. I love him just as much as I love my daughters but I feel a kind of desperation for him that I don't have to feel for them. He is 2 and a half years old. In a little over a year, that gorgeous, capable boy could be transferred to a mental institution.

And that is why we are crossing the ocean for him.

That is why we are working hard to get our paperwork together.

That is why we have to fundraise. This is truly a life or death situation.

If not us, then who?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We have our home study visit coming up on Thursday. We are moving along pretty well, it seems. We are hoping to have our dossier (big stack of paperwork) in his country in February.

My girls have made some keychains to sell to help to bring their brother home. They did everything except put them on the key ring. Tristen used my tools to crimp the ends together and Aislinn strung the beads. They wanted to use rainbow colored beads because we are adopting from Reece's Rainbow. We are asking $5 per keychain because of the cost of shipping. If you would like one, please use the chip in on the right side that says "Keychains". This donation is not tax-deductible because it is coming straight to us for some upfront expenses. If you could share on facebook, that would be great! Thank you!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who is Darren?

Our sweet boy is 2.5 years old. He is only eight months younger than Linden which will make for some pretty interesting conversations once he's home, I think. He has Down syndrome. That is likely the reason why he is an orphan. In his country, babies with Down syndrome and other disabilties are not usually taken home by their birth parents. They are sent to an orphanage. If they are not adopted by the age of four, then they are sent to an adult mental institution. He is almost 3, so he's likely only has a year and a half before that sweet baby would be sent off to a mental institution. I just cannot bear the thought of it!

He is in Eastern Europe and that's all that we're allowed to say until after he's home. He has no heart problems that we know of. We know that he has 'low muscle tone' but that is very common with babies with Down syndrome. It simply means that he needs a little exercise to get stronger. I love that it makes babies with Ds squishier. Those moms of kiddos with Ds know exactly what I mean. They are more cuddly and squishier than typical babies. And who doesn't love a squishy, cuddly baby?!?! I know that I do!

"Darren" is only his name on Reece's Rainbow. It's sort of a code name. His real name is something else. I happen to know his real name and nickname. Joe isn't very into his real name and while the name Darren is alright, we wanted to find something else to name him. I had a dream in the beginning of September. I dreamed that a friend of mine, Sarah (www.alongtheroad-adoption.blogspot), who is also adopting a little one with Down syndrome, her sister had these signs that she was posting on Facebook that were of a little boy looking for his mom. They said "Have you seen his mom?" and "Please find his mom!" They were of a little boy and I knew in the dream that the picture was definitely of Darren. In the meantime, I was also putting signs up on Facebook looking for my son. "Please help me find Matthew!" was written on the posters. In the dream, I called him "Matthew". When I woke up, I thought about the dream for a little while. A little boy was looking for his mama all while a mama was looking for her little boy. I knew that I was looking for Darren and he was looking for me, too, even though he didn't know it. I checked my email and had a message from Sarah, "Bianca, have you seen Darren's new pictures?!!? He is amazing!!" I immediately went to Reece's Rainbow and checked out his new pictures. Oh my goodness, who wouldn't fall even more in love with this face? I thought it was so neat that I dreamed about Sarah's sister who was looking for his mama and when I woke up I had a message from Sarah. After seeing these pictures, that's how I knew that I had to talk to Joe, but if you read the previous post, you'll see that it didn't go so well.



When we sat down the other night to think of names, I mentioned Matthew from my dream. Joe likes it but not as a first name. I just said "Why not Jackson?" Jackson has been my favorite boys name since I was a little girl. My mom had a Jackson Browne album that we listened to pretty often and I just thought that it was the coolest name. Joe agreed! So, his name will be Jackson _______! We are still trying to decide whether his middle name will be Matthew, Dean, Van, or something else. When I mentioned to my godmother that we were naming him Jackson, she said "Isn't that what you named all of your boy baby dolls when you were little?" Too funny!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An introduction

Hi, and welcome to our adoption blog! We are the Olivier family and we're just getting started in the adoption process to adopt a precious little boy from Eastern Europe.

We are Joe and Bianca. We have three girls, Tristen (9), Aislinn (7), and Linden (3). During my pregnancy with Linden, we found out that she may have Down syndrome or some other chromosomal abnormality because she had a heart defect and had no nasal bone. We did not do any further testing (amnio) because we were going to love her no matter how she came to us. We continued to monitor her heart throughout the pregnancy. She was born, in the middle of a hurricane, and as soon as I saw her face when she came out, I knew. We both knew. She did indeed have Down syndrome. And, everything about Linden, from that moment on, has been a complete blessing! She is seriously a wonderful child, as all three of our girls are. A lot of it IS because she has Down syndrome.

The seed for adoption was planted a lot earlier in life. As a child, I always wanted my parents to adopt. I would scour the newspaper for the "Wednesday's Child" (a foster child of the week) and beg my parents to adopt them. I loved watching shows about adoption and just knew that I would one day adopt a child (or several!). I think that when I mentioned earlier on in our relationship that I wanted to adopt, that Joe didn't really take me seriously. When I found Reece's Rainbow in 2008, a non-profit adoption ministry for orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs, my two worlds collided, Down syndrome AND adoption. I was hooked. I had watched specials on tv about orphanages and institutions so I knew what these children were headed to if they weren't adopted. I fell for a little girl and after a couple weeks of feeling so burdened for her, I asked Joe about adopting her. He wasn't too keen on it at all. I think that Linden was only 3 months old at the time. I will admit that it crushed me. I wanted to help. Knowing that adopting wasn't in the cards for me, then, I continued to pray for his heart and advocate for the children on Reece's Rainbow.

In June of 2010, I was looking through a photolisting of children available for adoption in a particular country. One little boy caught my eye. He was wearing a sailor suit and had the most captivating blue eyes. I could tell that he had Down syndrome and he was only a year old. I remember emailing his picture to the director of Reece's Rainbow, and she told me that he wasn't available for international adoption. It made me so sad for him because with having Down syndrome, he would most likely not be adopted in his own country. I told myself, "If he ever becomes available, I want to adopt him."
I never stopped praying for him. He was just too beautiful to be lost in the system.

Sometime in April of this year, I noticed that a little boy on Reece's Rainbow named "Darren" had a new picture. Something about his new picture made my heart flutter. I decided to save the picture to my computer to post it on Facebook. When I saved the picture, it went side by side with the picture of little boy in the sailor suit. I literally gasped and burst into tears because they were the same child. The little boy who I had been praying for all that time was "Darren". I just had chills all over. Oh how, I wanted to be his mama. I just wanted to swim across the ocean to bring him home. That's how strong my feelings were for him. Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to pray for Joe's heart to change. I decided to write him a letter. I never ended up giving him that letter for whatever reason. He never gave me any indication that adopting was something that he wanted to do.

In July, when a new baby girl, who looked JUST like Linden was listed for adoption, he 'let' me inquire about her. We even went as far as sending in our family profile but we were not chosen.

Last month, "Darren" got another new picture. Oh, his smile makes me melt. His little fat knees just begged for me to tickle them just like I do with Linden's fat knees. I could not stand it any longer, I had to tell Joe. I don't know if it was bad timing or what, but he shut me down. He said that nothing would change his mind. Oh, how my heart hurt. I wanted this little boy to be mine more than anything. Something about hearning no again just really got to me. I gave up. I visualized myself handing "Darren" over to God and saying "Please help Joe to love him like I do."

About a month later after not mentioning anything about us adopting, Joe came up to me and said "What would make you the happiest woman in this world?" I said, "Um, to go to Disney World at Christmastime?" He said, "No, even happier than that!" I said, "To adopt?" He said, "Let's do it!" After about me saying "Are you serious?!!?!?!" and punching him in the arm a few times, he told me about his dream. He said that a couple nights before, he had dreamed that he and I had gone to get our son in an orphanage. When we got there, our baby was tied to his crib, helpless, and Joe said to me "Why didn't we do this sooner?!" When he woke up, he knew that he had to tell me about it, but he waited a little while, mulling it over, knowing that this was a very big decision. He realized that he did, in fact, want to adopt, too.

And here we are! What a wild, crazy ride! Thank you for coming along. Tomorrow, I will tell you all about "Darren".


Thursday, June 23, 2011

"When I have a little boy...."

I've always dreamed of having a son. I wanted a boy, first, then three girls after. I wanted them to have an older brother they could run to when they needed something. I always wanted an older brother and was jealous of my friends who did. One day....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential, they help us reach ours. An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary. They are a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached, making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared." Author unknown