Friday, October 1, 2010

Walk for Water

Our internet friends the Greer's (who adopted their son from Rwanda) are hosting a walk to raise funds for clean water for orphans in Rwanda. We plan on walking tomorrow and meeting our friends in person!
Check it out and lend your support to a very worthy cause-

For a quick update on us- Elijah is thriving and getting more talkative every day. To say he and his sister are in love is an understatement. WE've had an awesome fun packed summer with day trips every friday with a friend of mine. We managed to hit sesame place, Ventnor beach, longwood gardens, the philly zoo, camden aquarium, hershey park, and finally we are planning a New York city get-away next week and will try and post pictures. Phew! We tried to make the most of the summer and I think we did our best! Elijah and his sister love day trips and helping mommy plan them. We gotta make up for lost time for him!
I can't belive his 1 yr "gotcha" day anniversary is only 2 months away. God has blessed us in amazing abundance.

See y'all tomorrow at the walk for water! God Bless!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet 16 - 2009 Adoptions in Rwanda

I was just reading on state dept. web site about 2009 Rwanda adoptions. I knew we were one of the "pioneering" families to adopt from Rwanda, but I did not realize we were only one of 16 families in 2009 to bring home a precious child from Rwanda. Only 49 adoptions in the last 9 years have been documented from Rwanda. A very, very small number in a country with so many orphaned and abandoned children. While deep in the adoption process, several families including mine shared an email web-ring with each other in which every scrap of progress from the Rwandan governement, any tiny detail about paperwork, approvals, or updates was shared privately with each other. I lived, ate, and breathed Rwanda adoption news. Seemed like everyone was adopting from Rwanda! It really helped to make the wait easier and feel like we were all in this "together". It also was wonderful to hear news of so many adoptive families beginning their Rwandan adoption process. In the thick of things it seemed like so many people were adopting Rwandan children in need of families. But 49 in 9 years is a cold hard number. That is only about 30% of the 150 kids who were at the Home of Hope orphanage when Elijah was there. Some other adoptions are taking place from other countries but still the need far outweighs the number of eligible families. I want to encourage you if you are reading this blog to not be daunted by the small number of adoptions from Rwanda. We found the process smooth, professional, and with direct government oversite to help ensure the well being of the children. The kids are waiting for parents to love them. Only 16 parents came last year but 16 lives are changed forever. Don't wait any longer to begin your adoption journey and follow God's direction to care for orphans and the fatherless. The Home of Hope is truly a refuge for the orphans, no matter how simple it is. If you are looking for a way to help the orphans of Rwanda but are not in a position to adopt, I can say from personal experience the Home of Hope is in desperate need of clean water. As far as I know, almost every child adopted from HOH had giardia and other preventable water borne parasitic infections. (and the concurrent diarrhea & malnutrition) You can donate money directly to the Home of Hope and you know the money goes directly to the kids. There is no middle man, just Sister Gracias / Mother Superior. (in other words, your donation is in the best of hands)
It may have only been 16 kids, but I think of it as "sweet 16" for the families who are blessed with our new children and the children placed forever in families.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Elijah at Disney

Just wanted to post a quick photo of Elijah meeting Mickey mouse for the first time- this giant mickey was at the airport, but he immediately recognized him and said "mou mouse". I love this photo of him. It's stored in my mind right beside the one of my skinny, weak son in a dark room filled with baby's cries, wearing a threadbare dirty onesie at the orphanage. I don't ever want to take for granted how blessed we all are, or forget how our brothers and sisters across the world live. But what a happy time for all of us and a transformative 6 months this has been.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy 6 Month "anniversary" Elijah!

True religion is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
—James 1:27

Today marks 6 months since we first held Elijah in our arms at the home of home in Kigali. It was 5:30 in the afternoon, still day time, but the nursery was dark as that is the time they put the children down to bed. He reached his little arms right for me, then after I held him a few minutes, he reached right for Bill. He was unresponsive, no facial expressions, and didn't wimper or cry for several days. I touhght he might have been profoundly autistic, or worse. But we were prepared for the worst. What a difference 6 months can make. Fast forward to last week, when we took a family trip to Orlando, FL. A beautiful, laughing baby brother and his big sister enchanted by the Disney light parade, playing for hours in splash pools, riding dumbo the elephant around and around, singing along with the Tiki birds, wide eyed on the jungle ride, and capticated by nemo and friends. (He mimics the seagulls from nemo saying "mine-mine"- so cute) I could hardly wrap my mind around the life he led before becomming our son. While I am so humbled by God's great hand at work in Elijah's life and the life of our family, I was painfully aware of how many children -orphaned and not- who lack even basic necessities while we have access to so much and are so incredibly blessed. My heart ached for the children left behind even as it rejoiced for our family and the miraculous turn of events in the life of our beloved son. Elijah has absolutlely transformed in 6 short months. He speaks little sentences, tells us 2-3 word "stories" tries to sing along wtih his sister, eats well with his fork, counts 1-2-5 blast off!, and --in my opinion, is not only a completley "normal" child but I think he's exceptionally bright! (and I think he's left handed, just like mommy and daddy!) What a wonderful blessing he is to our family. We celebrated his sister's 3rd birthday on Saturday (I can't believe it's been 3 years- happy birthday my little angel!) It was a Dora themed extravaganza- and he was such a little "ray of sunshine" participating in the scavenger hunt, wearing his little dora backpack, tugging at the pinata, and loving the cake and "dinner". (He was a little freaked out by the costumed Dora, but so were most of the toddlers. oops. note to self, toddlers freaked out by giant costumed people. One concerned little boy asked-- mommy, does Dora go back into the cartoon after she comes to see us?)
Healthwise, Elijah is growing taller (1 and 3/4 inches in 6 months, that the ped is very happy with) and has put on 6 lbs in 6 months, but we were concerned at last week's pediatrician appt as he actaully lost 1 lb in 2 months. We noticed he is not as ravenously hungry as was in the past, but he's not supposed to lose weight. His stool has never quite been consistantly normal, but is does have more normal days than not. We have been giving him more milk, and he seems to be ok, but maybe we need to back off the dairy completely again and go back to soy. I wonder if other adoptive parents have has simlar growth stagnation periods? We are retesting his lead levels and also a full blood panel. Will update with results!

Looking forward- Who know about another adoption- Emilia told me she wants to "order a baby sister from Wanda so she and baby brother have a sister to play with." She wants her to "sleep in my bed since no one sleeps in my bed" (Emilia sleeps with us in the "big bed" along with Elijah some nights, but he gets squished and often asks to go to his crib) She even has a name- sister Patty. We'll see!
So I am sorry I have not blogged in a while but the adoption part of our story is over now- now it's just our family story. I will still keep updating though so people can see how he is progressing. I thank God every day for our son and pray other families will be called to adopt the children who were left behind and still awaiting their parents to come and bring them home. If you are considering adoption, there is no time like the present. What a difference a few short months can make in the life of a child. We have lived this expereince with our son and it is unlike any other. Seeing God grace and power -alive- in the life of a former orphan, now beloved son, is beyond words.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Journey to Elijah

When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist. — Dom Helder Camara

We have been enjoying 2 snow days here, with lots of good family time together which has been great for all of us. We had originally planned a 2 week trip to Africa to bring Elijah home, then I would take 4 weeks off to be with Emilia and Elijah together, but as it worked out, we were in africa 4 week and only home for 2 before we started having to leave the kids with a baby sitter 2 days a week.
I am happy to report, health wise, Elijah is doing great. He is starting to use his blossoming vocabulary to string 2 words together, as in "No Janey" (the dog) and "thank you" and night night. His first eye tooth also came in (he already has 12 other teeth though!) He goes potty pretty much every time we sit him on it too, but doesn't tell us when he has t ogo. He has fit in beautifully with the family and is gentle and sweet. Our perfect daughter, however, has been having some major sharing issues. Sibling rivalry has reared its ugly head. I think it will take time, and probably be a life long age old struggle, but ultimatley we hope they are loving brother and sister. She had done cute things with him though like feed him, help bathe and change his diapers, and hold his hand while walking. Elijah hates snow and cold however. I can't blame him, coming from a perpetual garden-like climate!
We hope he learns to love snow like we do, over time. We will keep you updated on his progress, but so far it's been absoultely mind boggeling, praise God!

One thing I do want to post about is the "Journey to Elijah" It was so much more than the adoption of our son. It was an eye opening, life changing journet. It centers on the issues of blessings, wealth, giving, and yes, sharing.
Our friend in Rwanda, Pastor Peter, said that he felt God told him if he were ever able to preach to Americans he should preach that we (americans) should pray to God in repentance, and pray for forgivness, instead of praying for blessings. I thought about this for awhile, and realised how many Sunday sermons center are on praying for financial freedom, praying for God to bless us, praying for this that and the other thing. I feel God wanted me to share this message too. Going to Africa was like no place I have ever been. We met educated, wonderful friends who would be right at home at our neighborhood block party or chatting at the office cooler at work, then to hear them explain how 2$ a day is a good salary, but 3$ is even better, and to hear about teachers making 20$ a month-- it just struck to the heart of me. I realized how people living in industrialzed nations (not just america) have riches beyond imagination for a huge portion of the world, and even throughout human history. And what do we do? We pray to God for more. More. More.
I imaginged God manning the phone banks at the huge prayer hot line in heaven, and a prayer comes in from America- Dear God, this financial meltdown has really hurt our family. The bills are piling up, our 401k has dropped, the mortgage is late, our credit score is dropping, the bills are mounting, we may have to sell the second car and downsize the house... God says, wait a second, I have a call-waiting-- hold that prayer- But you know how sometimes when the operator puts you on hold, you can hear what's going on in the background? Well, you over hear another prayer... Someone in the Kiburu slum in Africa- a widow-- Dear God, as you know my husband died from AIDS last year and now I am not long for this world. This isn't about me though, God, my 3 yr old is near death with diarrhea. I have no money for a doctor and no way to get there. The water we drink comes from the river where raw sewer runs in,our house is a few pieces of sheet metal with no electric or heat or floors or glass in the windows... please God, I just pray you just spare the life of my child. Amen. Now God turns back to you- Sorry for the interruption, what were you saying?
You are silent. Then you say, Lord, thank you for the riches I have which are beyond imagination for so much of the world. Please open my eyes to them, let me see the blessing you have given me and be grateful for food, for medications, for clothes, for electic, for clean water, indoor plumbing, for healthy kids, for a heater when it snows, for shoes for our feet, for our educations, for our families, for your Son Jesus. You have blessed me and my family unto the 7th generation. We are so grateful for you God, and the wealth you have showered upon us. Forgive us of our sins. Please God, use me to do your will. Use me as your hands, your feet. Open my eyes to suffering in the world and show me the way to help my brothers and sisters. Then you say, "Amen". To whom much is given, much is expected. Let us not lose sight of the big picture. We live in the big picture, after all, not in our little corner of it. Forgive me my sins, Father, and use me and my house to serve the Lord.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Emergency Room For Elijah

Elijah has had a chronic cough since we adopted him, which had been over a month now. He saw the ped on tuesday, who wasn't too concerned and said he lungs were clear. He was so bad wednesday, though, he vomited everything he ate from coughing so hard. So thursday we went Back ot the peditrician where he heard crackels in both lower lung fields and sent us to the ER. Luckily we live by Children's hospital of philadelphia which is the best kids' hospital in the country. We had a good vsit there, and luckily a chest rad was clear. they gave him an albuterol inhaler to help with signs and thought it was RSV virus, and thank God they sent us home. But now poor Emilia had a 101.6 fever last night and was feeling pretty miserable. Poor kids!!! we need to go back to Africa, we were all healthier there ha ha.

The rest of Elijah's medical tests came back and there is a problem with LEAD. I wonder if other rwanda families kid's had lead problems? His level was "9" which is apparently not at lead poisioning level, but high-end of what's considered not-too-bad. I think it's because of all the cribs painted with lead paint at the orphanage. that's my theory. He was also slightly anemic. All other blood work, including re-test HIV, hep B, malaria, syphilis, thyroid, and wbc count was all normal. We are waiting on a HEP c test and stool results.

SO to any adoptive parents, MAKE SURE THEY TEST FOR LEAD!

We are praying to get two sick kids back on track. January isn't the healthiest month to do so but we'll do what we can!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Well, thank God we are home. Bill left us alone in kenya on Saturday Dec 26th, and we FINALLY got our visa to go home on Tuesday Dec 29, srriving home late wednesday night Dec 30. We waited 2 full weeks for our son's IR3 immigration visa in Nairobi. While I am still (quite) aggravated by the whole process and the incompetance and indifference of the US embassy in Nairobi, THANK GOD we did not get the visa Christmas eve. If we had, we would have left that night and traveled to amsterdam, where we would have boarded a plane from Amsterdam to detroit Christmas day. That was the plane with the bomb on it. God's hand was on the paperwork that day- although we were praying for it Christmas eve, God knew better. As it was, I was alone in kenya for 3 days but he gave me friends and helpers every step. A friend Rachel, a Jehovah's witness, from toronto, who gracioulsly helped me with my luggage not only in Nairobi, but also Amsterdam, then a nice man from Kenya / new jersery who lifeted my heavy suitcase for me and pulled it down afterwards, then carreid it to immigration for me. Finally, a nice immigration woman in Detriot (the only one I think i met in 4 weeks total)- who initially started in about how sick my child was, was he cleared by the CDC, etc- I was an emoitional mess by this time and was quite rude to her and the immigration man. She responded with pure kindness, putting me at the front of yet another long line, in which case I melted into incoherent tears and babbleing, apoligizing to her and thanking her for helping me. I think she forgave my rudeness when she realized what a wreck I was at this point. Then things went from bad to worse, at the detroit airport I waited 1 and 1/2 HOURS in a visa line only 5 people long, so I missed my philly flight. After waiting in another horrid line, i rescheduled the flgiht, then yet another security line (i think #6 at this point?) where another horrid rude TSA person barked at me to lift my suitcase, take off the BABY's shoes, etc. I started her down with an icy glare. It was not very Christian of me but I was a mother wolf at this point. These TSA people need major courtesy training. It's an abomination how they treat mothers with babies, old people, young people, everybody. Wasting our time all the while, it's clearly not enough and never will be enough to stop the real bad guys, and in the mean time everyone else suffers. Enough TSA rant.

Finally, I cleared immigration,scheduled a new flight, passed customs, security and the crowd was gone. All alone, we went up a gigantic pure white escalator with muzak playing in the background. I laughed to myself as I thought this looks like a scene in the movies with an escalator to Heaven. Far from Heaven, it was merely Detroit. LOL.
Elijah and I found a pretty fountain to sit by, and I made a much needed call to Bill. I was so happy to hear his voice. While i was talking to Bill, ignoring the baby, he proceeded to projectile vomit all over himself and a 3 foot radius around him. I saw people looking on in horror across the fountiain and wondered why- then I saw the vomit pile, and they saw an irresponsible mom chatting on her cell while a baby pukes. If only they knew our whole story.

We mercifully slept on the Philly flight, as the turbulance was apparently quite bad and had freaked out the gal next to me. I would have been a mess. happy I was so exhausted i didn't notice. The girls next to me heard what you never want to hear on a crowded plane when I sat down- I said, "Hi. I really sorry, but my baby is projectile vomiting all over everything. I brought you a waterproof mat to wear on your lap. I wanted to give you full disclosure up front. We've been traveleing for 30 hours at this point and I assure you this flight will not be as bad for you as the last 30 hours have been for me." That is exaclty what I said. Both the girls laughed (nervously) and thank God one was a mom of a 14 motnh old ad the other had been a nanny. Luckily Elijah didn't puke but slept like mommy.

We were greeted at the airport to a tearful reuinion with Bill's family, then suprised to see my dad and Deb and step sister becca and her friend Trent at our house. I have never been so happy to come home after a long trip. I heard it said it's a mother's duty to Endure. Well, I sure did. But Elijah is so sweet, doing great at home and even gettign sightly less pet-phobic. Emilia is having some sharing issues but doing ok.

Today both kids have a fever and Elijah has mouth blisters but he has a pediatrician appt. tomorrow. Also I need to bring about 6 poop containters along. yippee.

Over all, I am so incredibly proud of our family's calling to adopt our son. It's a crowing acheivement in our life and I am humbled God called us to do so. To God Be the Glory for this adoption. He called us, He Sent Elijah, and He brought us home. In His Timing.

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