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:
- 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.
- Ethiopia allowed families to adopt siblings, something we desired to do, make new families while keeping blood families intact.
- 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.
- 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?
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…
... 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.
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.
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.
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.