Adoption Story

The irony of it all

When we pursued adoption, we sent our paperwork to Ethiopia hoping to complete our family in one big swoop.  There were a few reasons we chose Ethiopia:

  1. We had just read, “There is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Africa’s Children,” a book that was the spark to set us in motion.
  2. Ethiopia allowed families to adopt siblings, something we desired to do, make new families while keeping blood families intact.
  3. Ethiopia had infants up for adoption.  It is difficult to bring children home at a younger age.  Often, children remain in orphanages YEARS before becoming eligible for adoption.  Even then, the ones who end up on the adoption lists are the lucky few.
  4. HIV was the culprit behind many orphaned children in Ethiopia and this broke our hearts.  We live in a country with ready access to medicines that give HIV children a return to health and life.  We couldn’t stand the thought of children suffering and dying in nations around the world when there was an answer to their plight.  Our original state mandated home study approved us to adopt children with HIV.

Our papers sent off, we joined online groups of parents who had already adopted HIV children learning all we could as we waited for Ethiopia to approve us for adoption.  We spoke at great length with our family physician.  We kept a constant watch on the list of children waiting for families.  In doing so, we learned we weren’t such a great fit for an HIV child after all.

Well, I did because we both know the woman holds a certain amount of influence.  amiright?

Dude, don’t eat the fruit!

I became disenchanted with adopting a child who had HIV after reading of the struggle parents had in getting their newly adopted children to swallow the rather large amounts of HIV meds.  A battle that families endured several times a day beginning first thing in the morning.  Moms had to set alarms on their cell phones because the need for exact timing of each dose was a big deal.

Since this is me in the mornings…

credit: funlexia.com

..pill drama was probably not something I should pursue.

The children new to the culture, language, and sudden life change were resistant to the barrage of medical treatment.  They didn’t understand that their new parents and doctors cared for them and were looking out for their best interests.  Trust is DIFFICULT for children from hard places with a history of trauma.  Shoot, trust is hard for ME.  I get it.

THEN our doctor told us that in our area the HIV medicines were expensive.

But the event that terrified me into having our home study changed to remove our eligibility to adopt a HIV child was when we watched another adoptive family complete their adoption, bring their new child home to the US, and then find that their child was in kidney failure and dying due to the untreated HIV.  She had no symptoms.  Worse, because of her HIV status she was possibly ineligible for the transplant list.  I fled the group before hearing the outcome.  (Her new mom worked in the medical field, specifically dealing with kidneys.  Now isn’t that something?!  She was handling everything beautifully.)

I am not a beautiful person.

I am a freak out, melt down, push every panic button in the room type of person.

MAY DAY

MAY DAY

We’re going down.

Fast forward six years and finally, FINALLY we get to travel abroad to meet and bring home our baby girl.  An adorable 9 month, healthy, happy infant girl.  You’ve read my silly fears of being too old and rusty.

Sigh.

Many of you follow me on social media and know what happened.  For those who don’t, here’s our sad tale:

We arrived at the orphanage to meet our child.  That morning we found her to be everything we had hoped for.  HAPPY!  Smiling.  Sweet and playful.  She surprised the orphanage staff when she immediately took to my husband, reaching out for him and stroking his beard.  We left for lunch and came back to spend the afternoon with her.  This time she was more pensive, pulling on her right ear.

Day two at the orphanage staff members told us she had an ear infection and they had called the doctor.  She fussed, only content if we walked her.  Her smiles had fled.

Day three our long anticipated “gotcha day” had arrived.  The day the orphanage would turn her over into our care.  The orphanage sent us with an antibiotic, a cold medicine, a fever medicine, and vitamins.

She cried all. day. long.

She cried all. night. long.

Day four we left for the airport to catch our early morning flight to another state within the country where we had appointments to get our daughter’s US visa and begin the exit paper process to leave our child’s home country.  Our little one SCREAMED  the entire time we navigated the airport which was a REALLY long, slow, painful process.  People walked past and stared while I pantomimed their way, trying to communicate that the little one’s ear hurt.

Our baby screamed so much another adoptive family offered to take her one night so we could rest.  We declined their offer hoping the medicines would soon take affect and that she’d be on the mend.

Day five we visited the US embassy office where our daughter once again screamed the entire time while I pointed to my ear and made sad faces at stoic Indian families who looked on.  After the embassy appointment we immediately visited the medical office relieved that we could have another doctor look at our baby and help her.  The doctor agreed that she had a right ear infection that was now draining, and he changed her antibiotic.

Day six I walked her and bounced her as this was the only way I could settle her scream into a minor fuss.  At one point she actually played with a toy.  I rejoiced thinking we were on the downside of this ordeal.

Day seven she made no noise from her playpen in our hotel room.  My momentary relief  turned into horror as I went to check on her and found her silently burning up.  We gave her infant Motrin, scooped her up, and ran for the nearest hospital.  They diagnosed a severe ear infection and changed her antibiotic once again.  She SCREAMED the worst we had yet to hear during her ENT examination when the doctor inserted a long, thin device into her ear to pull out some of the infection.

That was the last time we heard her make a sound.

They sent her home.

She didn’t look right.  She didn’t act right.  Her eyes looked funny.  Her head hung to the right side.  Her right eye was red.  I sent videos online to friends in the medical profession back home.  They said to “FIND A HOSPITAL THAT WILL ADMIT HER.  She’s having seizures.”

We ran back to the hospital and begged them for a doctor who would admit her.  The hospital admitted her on September 4.  By the time of her admission she had gone unresponsive.  She spent around six weeks in the PICU of an Indian hospital, her health deteriorating, until we could find someone willing to medically escort her home in her frail condition where she was then admitted to an American hospital.  By this time, too late.  As I type this, she is still in the hospital, awaiting an impending discharge.  Her current condition?  Seizures, brain damage, very low muscle tone, malnutrition, constant infections, and problems with her alertness.

The irony?  Soon I will have a child within my care needing around the clock medical treatments, far greater than mere pills.  A child who has brushed death’s doors repeatedly and whose medical outlook is not good.   I will be that sleep deprived mommy with alarms on my cell phone and worry dogging my heels. As for that expensive medication.  BAHAHAHA.  Our current medical bill situation is astronomically unending.

I once heard what you fear will come on you.

credit: tenor.com

But I’ve also heard I can’t know the God of the resurrection without first tasting death.

Does it look like He’s too late?

  “My Lord, if only you had come sooner, my brother wouldn’t have died.” – John 11:21

Do I sense fear as I question His love?

“Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!”  -Mark 4:39

Am I desperate to find healing for my child?

“But please, if you’re able to do something, anything—have compassion on us and help us!”  -Mark 9:22

 

So did they.

The Lord proved Himself faithful to many before me who experienced loss and fear.  Those who were not strangers to desperation.  His faithful love and tender mercies were enough for them.  They are enough for me and our baby girl.

That’s the story I like to tell myself.

Advertisements
Adoption Story · Behind the Scenes

Now accepting kudos

Dude.

DEWD.

DUUUUUDE.

Our life be like:

courtesy tenor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND I DIDN’T RUN AWAY.

When our adoption trip quickly turned into a nightmare of unheard-of proportions (like, who has this ever happened to before?  NO ONE.  That’s who.) I did not delete the blog.

SCORE ONE

giphy.com

Nor did I stop my last posts from going public on their scheduled dates.  Posts that cut me open for the world to see.  I let them hit the blog regardless of the hell we daily faced and how vulnerable I felt.

giphy.com

I DIDN’T QUIT.

It was no longer an option in my arsenal.

Maybe now I can change my about page?  I don’t know what this blog will evolve into because really I don’t want to write sad and I don’t possess the humor and wit to write the types of posts I love to read.  Nor do I hold the deep insight that would allow me to write words that inspire.  Yet, I itch to write and often mull over what to write… while NOT writing.

Hmm.  Your thoughts?

Rarely, do I give myself permission to be my truest self in public writing.  This I know.  Because I’m such a mix of sarcastic humor and heart felt gushy goo, woo-woo while keeping just one step above anxiety driven panic.  There’s not a niche for me.

I DIDN’T QUIT!!!  I DIDN’T QUIT!!!  I SO DIDN’T QUIT!!!

Now accepting applause for not running away. 😛

God's Word · This is Living

Prove Me

“Prove me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts. -Malachi 3:10

Although the Lord spoke those words about the Israelite’s failure to tithe, I’m inclined to think His sentiment is the same in other areas of our life as well.

Healing

“Prove me now in this…”

“If I won’t…”

Do what I said.

Perform what I promised.

Be faithful to you because I AM Faithful.

I AM Healer.

It’s not what I do, it’s who I am.

I AM Love.

I AM Life.

He is Who He is.  All the time.  Every hour of each day.

“Prove Me now in this…”

Prove me NOW and know that I won’t fail you.  Have I not spoken it?  Will I not perform it?

Adoption Story

Excitement is in the Air

This post written August 10, 2018 for later publishing.

This morning we woke to three new videos of our little one and a scattering of photo shots.  SHE IS SO STINKING CUTE!  For the first time I didn’t cry over updated videos.  Even though she’s reaching new milestones and doing all this growing up stuff without us there to cheer her on, instead of feeling disappointment over the months of wait, I felt only excitement.  My husband felt the same as he smiled my way and said, “Let’s go get her!”

It won’t be long before we’ll do just that.  Familiar street sounds drifted through the open windows of the orphanage and called to us from the background of our now coveted video clip.  Our daughter showed off for the camera.  Rocking on her hands and knees, a smile pulled at her mouth as she responded to the clucking sounds from her Nannie.  She’s just one daring knee lift away from mobile.  Does she know how close she is to crawl?  We drank in her efforts while vehicles rushed past the orphanage, their horns blazing the way.  India, how much we’ve missed you.

It’s nostalgic for us, this returning once again to my husband’s homeland.  The sights and sounds.  The scents and tastes.  Oh, the flavor!  We’ll bask in its richness on our return.  Although the trip will be jam-packed with official governmental dealings that leave little room for play, we’ve decided to play, anyway.  As the adage goes: it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  We’re squeezing in time to enjoy our return

And this.

MY SISTER’S PREGNANT!  Like out of the blue-she wasn’t planning it-it just happened pregnant.  We had our first set of children together and now we get an amazing opportunity to do it again.  The amount of exhilaration I feel is indescribable.  My sister is the most put together person I know.  Even though she’s still very early in her pregnancy, she had already searched out the answers to my anxiety fueled concerns.  She informed me of what products to use on our daughter that will neither poison her nor break the bank.  She also directed me to the best places to buy diapers and other baby staples.

I get to share this experience with my sister.  Heaven has kissed us.

Now THIS!

this last paragraph added August 23, 2018

This is where I tell you that our girl showed signs of some sort of viral infection late last week.  By the time the weekend had passed, she was full-blown miserable, walking around the house like Rudolph, her nose all shiny and red.  Then I woke with the telltale signs of the crud.  It’s slightly past midnight as I type this and ALL of our children are feeling the effects in their body as well.   Our flight leaves in a day and a half.

Um, this isn’t how this was supposed to go.   Not.at.all.

Adoption Story

the crazy that happens

Post written August 15, 2018 for later publishing.

This is the crazy that happens with international adoption.  Last week I talked to our family coordinator.  I was having an unhinged Mama moment and had called in pleading for any speculation when we might travel.  Our bio daughter’s new semester of college begins in a week and she’s adamant in her resolve to travel for the big event.  With an iron-clad attendance rule and tough classes in the mix, things are getting sticky.  Throw in a father of Indian descent who will not hear of skipping a semester in college— “WILL NOT,” he says— and we have ourselves a muddle.  Two bull-headed Indians in a dual.  I’ve seen this show before.  My bets are on the pretty one.

Now that we had passed court we were in the throes of a three-week wait for our certified court documents.

“They’re telling us your court documents will be delivered on the 15th, but this is India and things could change” our adoption coordinator said.  “After they get your court documents, they will get the baby’s passport which might take around ten days.  Then we will know more about travel dates.  Have you had your travel call yet?”

Um, no.

“They’re probably waiting until you get your written court documents.  I’ll tell the travel department to set up that call.”

We still didn’t know when we might travel, but as a consolation, let’s progress to a travel call.

The travel coordinator sent us an email last week requesting a phone call late this week upon her return to the office.  My husband had to leave town today on a business trip so that was out.  “Could we talk on Tuesday?” our response read.

Figuring they would push the call into the following week it surprised us to receive an email Tuesday afternoon confirming that she would squeeze our call in that day.

  “I’ll call you at 4,” she replied.

Her call found us lounging on the living room floor.  Our phones, a jumble of cords, powering up in the charging station forced us to a central location. Having taken the day off, my husband stretched out on his side, his head resting in the crook of his arm while I sat on my knees slouched over the coffee table.

“Hi!  Thank you for taking my call.  Well, I have news for you.” the travel coordinator said.  “We received your court documents today, your child’s birth certificate, and the abandonment certificate.  We have travel dates.  They would like you to arrive at the orphanage on the 27th.”

“Of this month?” We sputtered and gasped.

Just like that.  In a mere breath. It’s time to go, and it’s time to go now.

My husband pounded the floor with his hand in a celebratory gesture.  His whispered shouts of “We’re getting a baby!” soon followed.

He jumped up from the floor while I scribbled notes on our itinerary.  I could hear our girls exclaim from the other room.  Dad, eager to spread the news, left me to race around the house.  Our girl gravitated to my side where she could take in each word of the conversation.

I dripped sweat, my body unable to express verbally the depth of emotions as I transcribed the call.

Although you know the trip is coming, the call comes in unexpected right amid doctor appointments, various school and work schedules, and other life events.  It’s like a bomb explodes in the middle of your family life. For instance, a look at our family calendar reveals both our bio children with road tests later this week so they can DRIVE themselves around town.  Thank you, Jesus.  Too, there are trips to the college campus for textbooks and to sort out a few details before classes start on Monday.  My husband who is, as I type this, out-of-town on business is also car shopping because the kids need transportation with those shiny new licenses.

Shiny new license= used car.

He’s in charge of getting a vehicle, purchasing a car seat for the new baby, and buying diapers.  He’s also in charge of getting the cash needed for multiple legs of this trip.  Credit card machines are only available at the US embassy and often, they don’t work.  Everywhere else we’ll be paying in rupees which we will need to get with our US dollars upon our arrival.  For those interested in a break down:  we pay for,

  • the in country guides who help us through each stop
  • their hotel rooms along with ours
  • the transportation for trips to the orphanage, around town getting visa photos, copies of documents and whatever needs arise, and other governmental and medical offices
  • the required exit medical exam for our daughter
  • our visa appointment at the US embassy
  • and some new process that we, the parents, must go through to leave the country.  A process other parents have dubbed, “government hell.”  “Imagine your worst experience in an immigration or governmental office in the States and multiply it by hundreds,” they say.

I’m in charge of getting the kids ready for school, getting the adoption papers ready for travel (nightmare), packing for us AND the new baby, getting the house cleaned and stocked for the sitter who will house/teen sit while we are away. (Make sure the sitter is okay with these dates and if not, race to find another trusted sitter.)  Somewhere in there I need to keep teaching our girl who schools year round and maintain as calm as possible to ward off her anxieties.

“I’ll be nice to the baby,” she says, cautiously expressing her need for reassurance.  Although she has prayed and pleaded for this day, now she shares fears that the baby won’t treat her nice.

There’s the tiny matter of my husband arranging this last-minute travel with their employers.

We need to reserve a slew of plane tickets for our international and in country travel along with rooms at various hotels.  For an added kicker to this process once we find plane tickets (this late in the game they are EXPENSIVE) we have to have the flight plan approved by our adoption agency before we can buy the tickets.  With tickets changing and needing to get approvals during business hours, this complicates matters.

Remember, travel alone adds over 24 hours to this deal and we need to arrive 24 hours ahead of our first scheduled visit because we will need to allow ourselves some time to recover from the travel and acclimate.

This all happens now.

IT’S HAPPENING NOW.

Nope, not stressed at all.

(Liar, liar)

[update: our bio daughter made the hard decision to stay behind.  India requires a longer trip in country this time around and she couldn’t miss two weeks of work and school.  Too, it made her brother sad to see us all go for so long.  Our family has NEVER been split up this long.  “It’s like trial by fire,” our boy said.]  

Adoption Story

Bottle free baby. Really?

My panic over sippy cups was unnecessary because once again, orphanage life has thrown us an unexpected curve ball.  In life’s interesting way of throwing people together, while on our last trip to India to bring home our girl we met another adoptive family.  They were adopting their first child who lived at the same orphanage as our girl.  We spent several days with this family even reuniting with them months later in the states so our children could spend time together.

They returned to India the next year to being home their second child, a daughter.  Their daughter came from a different orphanage than that of our previous adoptions.  An orphanage which is the same orphanage as the baby we are now preparing to bring home.

Since we’ve passed court and I can breathe somewhat better, it was time for a mommy chat session.  I wanted to know everything to expect now that I was well, expecting.

  • “What will happen while we’re at the orphanage?”
  • “What do I need to take?”
  • “No, really, I’m terrified.  Break it down into tiny steps for me.  What do I do?”

Our hour-long conversation helped to prepare me for what I could expect this trip.  The orphanage which is now home to our wee one is fantastic.  Unlike our last experience, this trip we’ll find happy, well-cared for children in a clean and loving environment.  We’ll spend lots of time with our new child in her environment before taking her with us.  Likely, days.  For this trip, there’ll be a ceremony the day we leave the orphanage.  We believe it is a Hindu blessing of sorts.  I will fill you in.  😉

“You won’t like the way they feed the babies.  It’s aggressive compared to the way we feed our kids in the west.”

With that warning my friend described what I would see our first day at the orphanage.  Instead of bottles, the babies are spoon fed.  The Nannies lay the child back in a reclined position with the Nanny’s right arm wrapped around the child, the child’s neck against the her arm.  The Nanny’s right hand, wrapped around the child, holds the child’s chest firm.  Then with left hand, the Nanny spoons a bite of mush followed by a spoon of water into the baby’s mouth.  This continues rapidly until a rather large bowl is empty.

My friend noted that her child gained a considerable amount of weight in the month before they arrived at the orphanage to pick her up.  She believes the orphanage worked to fatten the child before she traveled.  She also believes the rather large amount of food was to show the new families how they feed the children well.

“After showing you how they feed your child, they will hand her over for you to do it.  When given my child, I sat her up and tried to feed her as we do here in America.  They shook their heads showing their disapproval and righted the situation.  I had to feed our daughter as they instructed.  Be prepared.  You will not like it.”

Already, I’ve informed my husband that he better see to the orphanage feeding while I pretend to tend to our girl.  I’m WAY too teary after over 24 hours of travel and the time change.  It’s best we let the Mister diplomatically handle mealtime.

And then there’s another sticky situation.  The orphanage has a no mouth policy.  Meaning, they have trained the babies to not put things in their mouth.  Like ever.  These babies have never sucked a thumb, a pacifier, or a bottle.  They do not place fingers and toys in their mouth.  Nothing goes in their mouth except for the food the Nannies spoon in.  This is a such a learned instinct that your child cannot hold a sippy cup or bottle and feed themselves while you are in country travelling.  They come home unable to suck.  While this may have proved an efficient way of cutting down on transmittable illness, it has also prevented these children from developing needed motor skills.

Again, this is a highly praised orphanage and I’m looking forward to our time spent with the Nannies and children.  I’m thankful for the heads up on what to expect.  While I plan to arrive ready, I’m also hopeful that our wee one will learn a new way of life without stress.  I’m travelling with teething rings and sippy cups just in case.  Our girl looked at me funny when I bought her a sippy cup, explaining that I would need her to show her new baby sister how it’s done.

It’ll be an adventure!  😛

Adoption Story

SIGN THE PAPERS!

this image cracks me up

This post written July 11, 2018 for later publishing.

Would ya, could ya, please?  Mr. Judge, just sign the papers already.  please

This morning four updated photos and two videos awaited us.  This child is transforming.  Her face has thinned out, already she’s losing the baby cheeks.  Her hair looks coarser and has begun to curl up.  And…

she’s a movin’.

Holy macaroni, the girl is seconds away from m-o-b-i-l-e.  The orphanage report describes her as “very active.”

The day I shopped, I felt a tremor of terror course through my being as I stood, dazed in the baby section of the department store.  How is it I feel everything’s changed since we first did the baby thing 19 years ago?  Where are the sleep clothes?

“Excuse me, ma’am.  Where are the sleep clothes for a 9-month-old?  Do you see them?”

What do I need, I mean really?  Oh crap.  There’s an entire row of sippy cups.  Do we need sippy cups?  Which sippy cup?  Baby wash.  We will need baby shampoo and wash and we can’t use the stuff we bathed our kids in years ago because apparently it was all poison.  Where are the baby formulas without poison? What do good moms use today?  I really want to be a good, conscientious mom, but THIS STUFF IS STRESSING ME OUT.  Diaper cream.  Oh, sweet Mary.  We’ll need diaper cream and there is another row just for the myriad containers of DIAPER cream.  We have way too many choices in this country.

I left the store without cups or creams, my head spinning as the horror sunk in.  A baby is coming and I don’t know what I’m doing.  Like at all.  People, it has CHANGED.

Last week we sat across the table from our social worker as we worked on yet another home study update. (Lucky us.)  That same terror reared its head as I listened to my husband field questions and talk about the trouble spots in our home once a toddler is on the loose.  Doggie doors?  Oh, Mylanta!   This kid could crawl through the doggie doors.  As he ticked off the possible hazards in our home I felt utter shock.  What was I thinking?  I’m ill prepared.

I felt that same tremor of terror after hitting play on my computer.  The tears that had formed after opening our email and viewing her updated photos instantaneously dried up and gave way to horror.  She is sitting without help.   It is HAPPENING.  There is a look in her eye.  She’s got places to go and things to do and heaven help the one who gets in her way.

She’s adorable

Bright eyed, the new videos show more of the smiles which tease the corners of her mouth as she focuses on her goal.

She’s happy, and she’s well cared for.  This we have known from her first photos where she was a wee little two months old.  She lives in what our adoption agency calls their favorite orphanage, and the care she receives is phenomenal.

I can’t wait to get there and experience her first home for myself.  I can’t wait for our girl to see that all orphanages are not evil.  That loving people exist in her homeland and that her people value and protect children.

Mr. Judge, would ya, could ya sign the papers already?