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.

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