A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A rambling update and serious pondering...

This is an update I sent to an email chain I am on of adoptive moms. After I put it together, I decided there were things that I just wanted to say in general. I am feeling somewhat incoherent right now, so I hope this makes sense. I am emotional, overwhelmed, grateful, in love with my kids and family, and in general in the midst of our own personal storm, though not meaning it is bad. So, here goes:

The kids are adapting well - the boys have done wonderfully, jumping in with both feet and really are doing great. Aman's (13) health (remember he was the reason the kids were medically evacuated from Ethiopia - the adoption and visa process got rushed and what should take three months took only three weeks) has been fabulous! His diabetes is actually doing quite well, though it appears he is still in honeymoon - meaning that his body likely still produces some insulin - as the autoimmune portion progresses his pancreas beta cells will lose the ability to make insulin, but right now it is quite easy to care for him. Aben (Ben) is 9 and just a pip! All boy and a total imp, in a good way.

Tsion (10) she came with the least amount of English and a diagnosis of epilepsy. Well, in the process of getting that evaluated here, we think we have found the source of her seizures. She has fluid build up in the ventricles of her brain and they are about a third larger than they should be, from the quick glimpse of the CT scan that I got. It is good and bad having such a medical and neuroanatomy background! I knew from what I saw on the CT scan that things were abnormal. A couple hours later the doctor was very direct with me and we are preparing for multiple MRIs next week then a meeting with the neurosurgeon to determine how to best help her. We have been told that it is very likely that she will need a shunt.

I had my freak out mama time last night after everyone was in bed and am calm and relaxed about it now. Just needed to process emotionally for a bit.

If you could keep her health in prayer as we work through this, I would so appreciate it. I feel like this kid complaining to God - we asked that he heal her or prove that it wasn't truly epilepsy or something, but brain surgery was not really what I had in mind. Like I know better than God??? I hate to think what would have happened to her had we not been called to adopt her. I just cannot go there, because I do know what would have happened. Permanent brain damage and loss of function and possibly death. God had a plan and had this all under control all along.

And given the issues/accidents that dh Steve and oldest bio daughter Kiley have had this year, we only have office copays, no more family deductible or out of pocket expenses for the year. So, God had it entirely in control.

And another praise - Tsion has been the toughest nut to crack, but she and I have had many breakthroughs in the last week and she is now beginning to talk to me, to ask for help, and to be open to relationship with us. She is well bonded to our youngest bio daughter who is close in age to her, and is now expanding to me and initiating interaction. Not too bad for 13 days! I am thrilled as I can see emerging the bubbly little girl that we saw in her video. I am so excited and no longer fear. I look forward to many years of being blessed to be her mama.

The boys - well, they seem to have no concern - we are their family, I am their mom, they come to me and dad and siblings, but maybe all girls are different. Our adoption of older boys (twice now) seems that they seem to adapt so much faster - it is all about action and interaction and busy and all that. Girls I am thinking may be more complex (oh, duh!). But we are seeing our little flower bloom a bit at a time.

God is so good. Who but He could have orchestrated this? We weren't going to adopt three originally, just the brothers. In prayer I saw three. We struggled to pick a third from the waiting children, but when Kiley saw the video, the child who most opposed the adoption of a girl and another child, she spoke God's words, that this child belongs in our home. And now I shudder to think what might have happened to my sweet daughter had she not come here. I hate to think of what we might ask her to go through, but know that there is hope and a future for her and maybe even healing.

We are in the moment of seeing God's hand work it's way out. I just find myself frozen as I can see the fingerprints all over this. Thank you God, you saved this child. We thought we were saving Aman. Turns out the child we were saving wasn't the one we thought. Aman and Kiley saved their sister. If Aman's lab results had not been abnormal they would not have been medically evacuated. Turns out he is fine (praise God), but Tsion might not have had that time. I have no idea how much time there is before this could/would have really impacted more or what would have happened, but I suspect, given the doctor's urgency and concern that time is of the essence. Kiley spoke the words, Aman sped things up. Two children may have saved their sister more than either Steve or I could have. That is God. Only God. Can we say "humbled"? Steve and I set out to do good (and reap the blessings of parenthood - selfish certainly). But we had no idea of what God called into being. We literally had nothing to do with that. We just did each thing as we were asked, just as we continue to do. And we are blessed to see God's plan unfold. I don't even think that we can say we were instruments - though maybe that is what it is - we had no knowledge of what we might have been doing, as it turns out. What we thought we were doing, was not what we were. The help we planned to give was not only what was needed. There was more to it. The situation we thought was pretty straightforward and simple, has turned out to be the most complex and needful. We had nothing to do with this.

Okay, enough tears. I am just processing a lot right now.

Hang in there all of you who are waiting on this adoption journey. God truly has this under control and His way may not turn out the way you thought. His way may have had an entirely different purpose that you might only see in retrospect.

Oh the ways of God. Someday I hope he lets me see this entire tapestry, not just the individual threads we weave.
Thanks for all the support. Look for God's fingerprints, they are there. They are SO VERY much there. Stand firm where God has called you, wherever that might be. Thanks for walking this journey with us. I hope somehow it benefits someone else.

God's blessings,
mom to the great eight
wife to the greatest man

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At Day 12

Sorry that things have been so quiet!

For a long time as I read adoption email discussion groups on the internet, I was perplexed about all the negative things that were being discussed. At one point I remember wondering why we never seemed to discuss the positive. Was it because there wasn't any, though that was far from our experience and life. Was it because ... Well, I don't know. At one point, I began to wonder if it was because the people who were doing well were too busy with their life to be rehashing issues over and over? Sounds judgemental and all that so I tossed it aside. But it was the continued trend. I don't seem to see the same thing in most of the blogging world, but in the support forums, that was what was there. As our life has accelerated, I am again wondering about the same thing. I would certainly say that things are going well, which means that there is a lot going on, and simply, by the time I have the entire crew in bed, well, I am pooped and have no brain cells to be of any good to anyone or even mildly entertaining!

So my apologies to anyone who might have been waiting/praying/worrying. We are good.

Everyone is settling in. Not that there have not been bumps in the road, as expected. But we are seeing positive progress and a lot of very typical "kid" behavior. And lots of things that are cultural - in Ethiopia, it is very common to wear the same clothes for a week unless they become visibly dirty. Needless to say, trying to teach that I expect new clothes on them each day has been a bit confusing for them. Just the way we do it here! And bathroom issues. Mom and Dad have each addressed it and things are improving - but this is a new thing for them. None of this is new to us, in fact it is a lot of deja vu as with Zeri and Solly we had many of the same things. But this time I have TRANSLATORS!!!! Whoo-hoo! Lots of things like that - doors to the outside need to be shut - out here if you don't then we are engulfed by flies or barn cats, neither of which I want in my house! But, over there, you don't shut doors, they are always left open unless you are leaving or something. Different here. It just is. So, nothing but the day to day and slowly living a life together, becoming the new family that we now are.

We have had many doctor's appointments - Aman is doing very well, though certainly doesn't understand his diabetes well, but that is OK. Working on that. It will come. He is doing well medically. Really. And he is an interesting young man with a neat sense of humor and willing to really step out and join in! Aben has his physical tomorrow, but I don't anticipate any issues. Of course all the kids are having lots of bloodwork done to make sure they are healthy and to check on vaccination needs.

Tsion is a bit more medically right now and we would love it if you would include her in your prayers. We may have a cause for her seizures and it may be something that can be relieved. There might be a potential that she might not have seizures if we can resolve this. But right now, she has excess fluid in the ventricles in her brain, which pushes on her brain. It likely has been building for some time and fits with the timeline of when she started having seizures. We did CAT scan and EEG this morning and were referred for a couple specific MRIs of the brain and spinal cord which will be done mid September. Then we meet with the neurosurgeon. Just all that information alone had me needing to process. But, I just need a short time to have my small freak out, and then we can move on. I just need to process for a short time and then we get on with life. It was scary to get all those terms and consider what may come. We were told to expect that it is likely that she will need a shunt. I know that these are nearly routine (as much as something like this can be) and that it can be very successful. (Can you tell I have had a small time to process?) It will all be OK. We have skilled doctors who can help and God is not surprised by this at all. We will just take it one step at a time and not look too far beyond the next step until it is time. In some ways I am glad that we have hope of helping her, we have been praying that somehow her epilepsy might not be truly that and that there is something more that can be done for her. This never occurred to me. So, that is where we are with that.

Tsion is coming out of her shell more and more, is interacting more with everyone, not just with Faith who is by far her favorite. She has an adorable laugh and when she smiles her whole face just lights up. It is lovely to see this small flower bloom!

All the other kids are doing very well. It is neat to see everyone reaching out and sort of "re-inventing" who they are now as our family has changed. Everyone has their own talents, but this is all added to by the talents of the others. Aman has quite a talent for drawing and Kiley has declared him her "master" in drawing so he is teaching her his techniques and they really enjoy this together. Solly loves having someone with about as much energy as he has at home to play with!!!!!

Well, hubby is home from play practice, so I am going to sign off for now and will try to post more when I can!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day Two as a family of ten!

As you all know, we are in the transitional phase.

Aman (12 or 13) speaks English very well, thank the Lord. He is very willing to work with us and trust us with his care. He has conversational English and even reads and writes!!!

Aben understands more than he lets on and is a fun loving little guy (9). Solomon (home two years) is in heaven to have such an energetic playmate and is really stepping up to help his little brother (Solly is 10). Alex (almost 15 bio) is enjoying having more brothers, even a little one who had fun teasing him at church about his "girlfriend" - just a friend who was nearby, we don't date in our family.

Tsion has been the most difficult nut to crack, but today we had a breakthrough when she out loud read a t-shirt - in English!!! Previously, we didn't think she understood much if any English and I anticipated starting at square one with reading!!! Hah! The stinker!! LOL! She understands more, much more - probably not as much as Aman, but much more than we had thought! She is 9, and Faith is 9 (bio). They share a room and are rapidly becoming good sisters, holding hands and helping each other. I have seen them laughing and talking together, which is good, because Tsion wasn't talking at all to us, and very little in Amharic with her brothers who speak Amharic. Kiley (12) spends time with everyone, a bit at a time, but being our driven child, she generally is pleased to do her own leadership thing.

So, so far, so good. Tomorrow is a very early morning at Children's Hospital for Aman - we all will have to go. That means we leave the house at 5AM after animal chores. Ugh. But, Steve will be able to come with us, and we will then drop him after the doctor's visit at the office in Milwaukee (where he generally works once a week) while we go to the zoo or the museum while he works. Then we will all head home together. I am not looking forward to the two to two and a half hour drive each way, but it is what it is.

Friends from church organized a picnic for us to welcome the kids home. It was lovely and the predicted rain lasted about three minutes! What a blessing these people were! Talk about feeling warm and loved and supported! And my parents came out too! They had been out of town when we arrived, so it worked out lovely and they were enchanted with the kids.

We are so pleased and happy. We know that there is lots ahead of us, but everyone is good at this point. I am looking forward to starting school with everyone soon. We will need the structure and our lessons will give us that. I stand amazed at what God has done in our lives and our kids' lives. Humbled too.

I will post pictures in the next few days!

I will post more as time allows!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We are HOME!!!!!

Hi all,
Just a short post for those of you who are following this from afar (like my folks who are traveling).

We are home and all eight kids snug in bed! It was a long evening at the hospital, and turns out all our experience paid off, as Steve and I were correct on what we thought needed to be done. We had a bit of panic for a while as at first the doctor who was consulting via phone wanted to admit Aman, who was doing beautifully. After some calls back and forth, I think the resident who was working with us convinced the endocrinologist that the child sitting in front of him was in good health and that he would feel quite silly admitting him! LOL! thank goodness as the thought of putting everyone else up in a hotel room for the night was a horrible thought!

It turned out fine, the doctors worked out a plan for how we should dose Aman over the weekend and we will go from there. The numbers that we had rolling around in our heads turned out to be the same ones the doctors gave us!!! So, we were doing okay from the beginning.

The kids are amazing. Just amazing. And all lovely. It was a long, tiring night after a long tiring 27 hours, but everyone made it. I will post more later, but right now I really want to spend time with my very tired hubby! He didn't sleep the entire way, and only about 45 minutes on the drive home. Poor guy! I SOOOOO remember! LOL!

Thank you Lord for all the kindness.

Friday, August 14, 2009

On US soil!!!!

We got a call from Washington DC - they are through Immigration and headed for their next flight! Yay!!!!! Got to chat with hubby, everyone is doing amazingly and he sounds delighted though way confused about what time it is!!! LOL! All three kids shouted into the phone: "Hi Mom!".

I am so excited - we are cleaning like mad, putting clothes in dressers now that we better know sizes and getting ready to pick up Faith and Solly from camp - then to head to the airport in Milwaukee!!!!!!!!

Praise God, here we go!!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All seems to be well...

We got a couple emails through in the last 24 hours. The general uptake is that things seem to be going well. Aman has more English than any of the three and Steve seems to be able to communicate pretty well with him. The others not as much, Tsion the least, but hopefully that is because she is unsure of herself. Either way, it will be what it will be. They will be boarding their plan about 4PM our time, I think - it is all getting a bit muddled. Today Steve is doing a bit of running or errands, getting the things on the list we gave him. I really simply don't care about the spices or anything anymore. I just want them all home. Now.

We are still slotted to head to the ER, it is now settling down a bit and appears that it will be more of an unconventional office visit to get things started and the big visit to get medical care really on board will be very early Monday morning. We are hopeful that Steve will be able to come with us and then work in Milwaukee after that. This is all going to be very challenging especially in the beginning. We will get the other kids started on medical care yet this week, but the others aren't quite as urgent from a day to day standpoint.

We are putting lots of things together to be "ready" and of course I am obsessing about everything, wanting so much to do everything, it all stands out, though most of it really isn't important. Nesting??? I don't know. Probably controlling what I can. And I am trying to enjoy these days with the big kids. It is fun to do the things that we might not do otherwise - like watch thrillers - not horror movies, no sex or gore, just scary. We all love it, though are having unconventional sleeping arrangements as we freak ourselves out late at night. Hah! We even stopped one movie to watch in the daylight as we were all on the edges of our seats!

Better run, they are calling that they finished chores and are ready to watch the end of that particular movie! LOL.

Will update as there is time. Thanks for all the prayers. I am so ready for this longest week in history to be over and our new journey begun!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Please pray...

on Friday Steve will be arriving with the new kiddos from Ethiopia, and I have been battling with our pediatric diabetes clinic to get Amanuael in right away as a new diagnosis - there is next to no medical care over there and we really need a full workup to get him started well. The risks are huge if we do not have an accurate plan. I have been educating the staff on the status of medicine and diabetes care in a third world country and I still don't think they all believe me. It is really frustrating as we have been prepping them for this since January, and thought we had it all lined up in July!!!

Well, the clinic from the Children's Hospital called and they want him to go directly to the ER from the airport. Not the homecoming we had wanted for us all, the children especially. So, we are praying that we will be able to go home as a family that night yet, that they won't have to hospitalize him, that somehow this will all still turn out to be a positive start. I just keep crying. But it is what needs to be done as he is in such a dangerous spot, our diet here is so different from there and his medical care is already so bad. So, if you could pray with me. I am so thankful that Zeri will be able to be our interpreter and that Kiley can relate her experiences to Amanuael. But this is not the transition we had wanted. But whatever it takes to make sure he is gets healthy.

Thanks. We have still not heard a thing from Steve since the first email when he landed. I think today is the day they go to the Embassy for their visa appointments. Then Thursday they get their visas and leave Thursday night. And Friday they land here! Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

and another era is about to begin!

I got an email from Steve. He made it there well, and didn't sleep much during all the 27 hours of travel, even though I told him to sleep while he could - that may be a good thing, since by the time he was there and able to email us, it was 10:30PM there. He was very tired, so hopefully is sleeping and will then be adjusted to the time change. I don't know about jet lag, I was so excited, stressed and discombobulated when I was there, I simply didn't care about sleep or anything.

In the email we got, it sounded like he was to pick up the kids about 9:30 AM Monday - we had origionally thought it would be Tuesday! I think he is excited and terrified at the same time!!! I find I spend a great deal of time here fighting back tears in general. I think it is just a great deal of emotion and all of our thoughts and hearts are really in Ethiopia. Every little bit someone is asking me what time it is over there and what do you think Dad is doing. I cannot believe that this all is happening. It was fast, less than seven months by the time he gets home, but it also seemed so long at times. I am so overwhelmed in general.

I am hoping to do some sewing this week - all the kids have grown so much they need new pajama pants and I want to make some for the new kiddos too. I am going to be sewing a "twirly skirt" for a friend's daughter (a good trade for several buckets of cherries!) but I think I will try out the pattern on all THREE of my girls first!!!! It looks easy and fun. Damn, now I am blubbering again. Keeps happening. Hope no one sees!

I don't sleep when Steve is gone, will try some melotonin tonight. Need some rest. The two youngest are going to camp tomorrow and I have to get in some hours at work. The three oldest will keep me plenty busy! I am hoping to start some schooling with them and get us on track for the school year. I know that we will keep busy, but all our thoughts are in Ethiopia and we check the computer constantly for any updates, even when we know there won't be any. Why I am crying all the time, I am not sure! I know it is just emotions, I keep comparing it to being near the pregnancy with my bio kiddos. You know that this momentous event changes everything for the entire family, and that we will never be the same. And yet you really cannot wait. And when I am really tired, I know that this will be exhausting as well as uncharted territory. Maybe I recall too well how intense it was when Zeri and Solly came home. It wasn't bad, just very intense and full of energy. And I know that it is coming.

I cannot wait to meet them , to know their personalities, to just get to know them in general. I cannot figure out how God has chosen us for this, given us this great gift of these wonderful children. It is such a blessing, in the midst of the mundane at times. It is so neat to talk to Zeri and Solly these last few weeks - the homecoming has brought up such memories and thoughts and they are sharing so much with us. It is so neat to be able to talk about it now. They are really amazing kids and in general, just kids. Just as we are just parents. That's all, nothing extraordinary. Just parents, parenting the kids in our home the best we can. Looking for their God given talents and leanings and trying to nurture them to who God has made them to be. I am so amazed everyday. And there are many struggles, but they are all worth it.

Well, time for a site change for Kiley's insulin pump, so have to run! Diabetes never takes a rest! And then I am headed to bed!

Love to all, please pray for Steve and the kids, and that I am not a blubbering fool!!!

Here we go!!!

Steve left very early yesterday morning on the first of several flights to get him to Ethiopia! As I write this I believe that they have landed in Rome already for refueling and should be in the air on the way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I get so confused by the time differences, that I honestly am not totally sure when our time he lands there. But it is sometime this morning I believe. Then I think he gets to sleep for a while, do a bit of shopping - we gave him a list, and then prepare to get the kids!!!!!!

He will take custody as soon as his running around is done - he cannot go out with the children, so he has to do some things first though I know he is very anxious to get to the kids. We got some new photos yesterday and they are adorable! I will post photos after everyone is safely home. Not that I believe in jinxing things, but well, you know, don't want to jinx things. Once the children are in our custody, I don't think there can be any problems. We of course were forbidden to post photos of them before they were legally ours, so technically we can now, but you know, just not to have any problems....

I don't sleep when Steve is gone - he has the same problem, so nights are rough. Would you believe that I slept with one of his favorite baseball hats last night? LOL! I don't know why it was on the bed, but it was, and it just felt good to hold it in my hand. In fourteen years I don't think we have been apart for more than 20 nights all total, including my trip to Ethiopia and Steve's training for his new job. It just doesn't fit for us.

Well, I will post more later, we are getting ready for church and my printouts for Sunday school finally are done - our printer tends to get stuck, so I have to sit here while it prints. Now I better get going!!!!!

Love to all!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Please pray...

this time not for us. One of the children on the older boys' soccer team was flight for life'd from the tournament today. They cancelled the championship games (this team would have been in the one for their age bracket). Our kids were all on hand when the event happened - it was not a soccer related injury, something due to a pre-existing medical condition. Please pray for this boy and his family.

Dear Lord,
Please reach out to this sick young boy, all those who are working with him and his family, his parents and siblings. Please let them feel Your love and grace during this time. We pray for health, strength and a return to full life. Please hold them all in Your hands. Please also touch those who witnessed this, comfort them and let them reach out to their own families.

I don't know what more to say except that we are so very concerned.

Thank you for praying for this young man from Kewaunee.
Christy and crew