Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

-Ethiopian Proverb-

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toukoul Orphanage, Ethiopia (Les Amis Du Toukoul)

I found this short video about the orphanage where Laurel and Willow are currently living for only a short time longer. For those of you out there in Blog Land who are going through this orphanage, I hope that seeing the pictures of where your children are or will be coming from brings you much peace as you can clearly see how clean and cheerful the environment is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Personal Leap of Faith

Relying on God's timing has always been one of my downfalls as a human being. As a person who likes to be in the driver's seat literally and figuratively, surrendering to God's plan for my life and for my family has always been difficult, and I am finding myself becoming increasingly tense as we head into the final stages of this adoption. I try to focus on the reality that I'm going to be seeing my daughters' sweet faces in a few short weeks and that currently, they are safe, healthy, and thriving. I also try to remain grateful and happy that my oldest daughter, L, has just started insulin pump therapy for managing her insulin-requiring Type 1 Diabetes. This therapeutic device has, for the most part, been fully covered by our medical insurance complete with a "Pump Trainer" who comes to our house to make sure L is doing well with her $6,000 miracle of modern medicine and technology aka The Minimed Paradigm Revel Insulin Pump! I am constantly reminding myself that "it's all good", but there is this part of me that needs more proof, and there is none! There is just so much going on, and I keep reflecting on my fears of what can go wrong. One scenario is not being granted custody of Laurel and Willow right away even after having traveled halfway around the world to give testimony before a judge all because a small piece of paper is missing from our file or a witness was not able to travel to the preliminary court date on November 2nd to give their statement. Another is that we won't get our re-fingerprinting appointment from the Department of Homeland Security auto- generated before we depart for Ethiopia thus resulting in expired fingerprints on our I-171H immigration form! Another scenario that keeps making my heart palpitate with fear is that if we are not granted custody of the girls during our first trip, we will need to get a homestudy update done for the Department of Homeland Security because our original homestudy expires on March 30, 2011. If we don't get custody right away and a third court date needs to be scheduled, the American Embassy in Ethiopia cannot begin processing the immigration papers for Laurel and Willow, thus resulting in delays in taking that second trip where we get their visas so they can enter the United States as full citizens. A homestudy update in the State of California is no easy endeavour. Not only do we need to get re-fingerprinted for our FBI clearance, our child abuse clearance, and our State of California clearance, we need to get our medical forms redone (an adoption physical is required and not covered by our insurance), have the social worker come out to our home twice for interviews and inspections, and pay $750! Not good! We had not anticipated this extra expense, and paying for the two trips to Ethiopia makes this difficult. Oh yeah, we also need to buy another car; we are currently a one-car-family, and I don't think L would appreciate being crammed in the backseat of our Honda Fit with two carseats! We had to use our down-payment for a car this summer to fully replace our broken air conditioning system because attempting to survive summer in the desert with no A/C is not only impossible, but very dangerous! I'm also really scared of leaving my oldest daughter back in "The States" when T and I travel to Ethiopia. For those of you who don't know us, my daughter L is an insulin-requiring Type 1 Diabetic who is at the mercy of the whims of a fine-tuned balance between short-acting insulin and carbohydrates. As L has grown older (and wiser), she has become mostly independent with her diabetes management, but T and I have always been there as part of her support and feedback team. Granted, L will be under the watchful eyes of my parents when we are gone, but Type 1 Diabetes is a condition where things can go really wrong really fast! I can't be there to support and comfort her if she has a severe low blood sugar attack; those are not fun, and she can become pretty disoriented! On the other end, I can't be there for her if her blood sugar becomes too high which can result in diabetic ketoacidocis; this condition would land her in the hospital! We would take L with us to Ethiopia, but her diabetes doctor cautioned us against it because of poor insulin availability, a lack of appropriate medical facilities, and the high incidence of illness that exists there, and since both T and I are legally required to attend our court date unless one of us is pregnant or about to be deployed to war, we have to go. Crazy stuff I tell you!!!!! I need to keep having faith that this journey is what God has planned for us. I think that at the end of this process, so much personal and spiritual growth will have occurred on so many levels for so many people. I truly believe that God strengthens our faith in Him through the facing of our fears and challenges. This adoption journey is like that part in the third Indiana Jones movie (The Search for the Holy Grail) where he is faced with stepping off the edge of a cliff into seemingly nothing but a deep chasm. His task is a leap of faith, and when he takes that first step, he lands on a rock bridge that blends in with the surrounding cliff walls. Indiana Jones makes it to the other side, finds the Holy Grail, and saves his dying father. I'm not saving a dying family member by completing the process of an Ethiopian adoption, nor will I find the Holy Grail when it's all finished, but I am taking my own leap of faith with the end result being the addition of two beautiful little girls to our family!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ethiopian Sepsis and FedEx

A few days after all of the drama centered around Laurel's diagnosis of sepsis, I had a long talk with the director of Dove Adoptions about the medical status of our baby girl. Apparently, Ethiopian doctors think of sepsis differently than American doctors. In Ethiopia, any infection that a person has warrants a diagnosis of "sepsis"; these infections can range from a simple ear infection to a serious infection of the blood. In the U.S., a sepsis diagnosis would land a person in intensive care in an oxygen tent undergoing crazy medical tests including a spinal tap! We had Dove forward an email requesting more information about Laurel's particular sepsis diagnosis, and today, we found out that she was treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic, she responded positively, and that she is currently healthy. Praise the Lord! We are still waiting for more information such as what her symptoms were and what follow-up tests they are conducting such as blood cultures and chest x-rays, but honestly, I think she's just fine. I hope we hear back from the orphanage soon!

Going off on another tangent, I need to vent about FedEx. After spending over $4,000 on airline tickets and traveler's insurance, our travel agency sent the aforementioned items to us via Federal Express complete with a tracking number. After waiting a couple of days for our tickets to arrive, T checked the tracking number and discovered that they HAD arrived when in fact, they HAD NOT!!!!!! We checked the front porch and also asked L if she had seen them. Lo and behold, they were not on the porch and L had no idea what we were talking about. Well, where could they be? When I called FedEx's customer service number, they couldn't find them too! They were going to run a trace the following day as we were calling on a Sunday, and FedEx only operates Monday through Saturday. Our tickets were floating out there in FedEx land complete with personal and identifying information about me and my husband. Needless to say, we were not pleased. I decided to take matters into my own hands and proceeded to shake down my neighbors. My closest neighbors didn't have them, so I went around to the other side of my neighborhood to the person who lives in a house that shares our address but not our street name. He didn't have them either! I was starting to get that all-to-familiar nasty angry-panic-helpless feeling as I walked home. I looked up to the sky and said, "Lord? I really need those tickets! Would you mind helping out a neurotic woman when you have a chance? Thanks. . . I'd appreciate it." I rounded the corner and was passing by a house that is three doors up from us, and what do you know! Our tickets were sitting on their front porch! The FedEx guy left our very important package sitting on the porch of a foreclosed house with a lock box on the front door! Also, the address was different than ours! I raced home happily all the while thanking God. With much relief, I presented our airline tickets to my very happy husband who promptly called FedEx to lodge a complaint. Shesh! I am really ready to be finished with all of this adoption drama! On the positive side, I AM GOING TO MEET LAUREL AND WILLOW NEXT MONTH!!!!!!!! Hooray!!!! Yippee!!!!!! Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can hardly wait to hold them, rock them, play with them, cuddle them, and tell them how much I love them!!! Life is good!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Today started out as an ordinary Thursday. We woke up, had a nice breakfast together as a family, got dressed, I had a very nice phone conversation with the director of Dove adoptions, and we started down our separate paths. T went to work, L started on her school work, and I set out to confirm our lodging at the YGF Guesthouse in Addis Ababa for our upcoming trip. Since most of my tasks were centered around the use of the internet, I was constantly checking our email because we were expecting the September update of pictures and medical reports for Laurel and Willow. Much to my happiness, when I logged into our email account, I found the update waiting in the inbox. I called T at work, and we proceeded to look at the pictures and medical files for our babies. We were ooooing and aaahhhing until T saw the word "sepsis" on Laurel's recent medical treatment section! The doctor stated that she was diagnosed with sepsis, treated with antibiotics, and was currently healthy. Well, our mommy and daddy hearts lurched to hear that our baby girl had been sick, but we had no idea what sepsis was until T and I did an internet search for sepsis in infants. Come to find out, sepsis is a dangerous bacterial infection of the blood that would, in the United States, warrant a medical emergency! According to the website called, sepsis " is a serious infection that is usually caused by bacteria which can originate in many body parts such as the lungs, intestines, urinary tract, or skin that causes the immune system to make toxins that attack the body's own tissues and organs"! OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Needless to say, we freaked out! I immediately hung up with T and called our adoption agency. All they had to tell us was that the agency director had already sent out an email request to the orphanage doctors for more information (this request was made yesterday, and we received the medical reports today. Hummmmm. Strange.) and that sepsis is very common in Ethiopia. After I got off the phone, the first thing I did was fall to my knees and begin fervently praying to God to protect my baby girl. I then proceeded to call my mom to see if she had any idea of the repercussions of sepsis in infants due to her work as a birthing and support doula. She had never heard of sepsis. I then proceeded to, in my deranged state of utter helplessness, call one friend who has a girlfriend who is a critical care nurse as well as another friend who is married to a doctor. I left messages, and two minutes later, my phone rang. Praise God, it was my friend's husband (who I believe is an angel) calling me from work. He proceeded to tell me how a person gets sepsis, how it is treated, and best of all, if a person fully recovers from the infection, there is no "lingering weirdness" aka long term complications for the infected person. He also proceeded to tell me that Laurel has youth on her side, and that if the doctors said that she is well, she is cured. He did want more information, but unfortunately I was unable to provide him with any. He also told me that sepsis can stem from a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, bacterial diarrhea, or a topical skin infection. This is what I would really like information on from the orphanage doctors. How in God's name did she get something like this?!? Dealing with this has really made me understand our babies' precarious situation; their health is so precious and fragile. I am frightened for my daughters. I keep praying for their protection and health, but this overwhelming and horrible helplessness keeps creeping in. Can you do me a favor? Can you please pray for my little girls? Thank you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Court Date!

I am so pleased to share with everyone that we were assigned a court date for the 2nd of December of 2010! We got the email from our adoption agency yesterday. I must admit that August and September were difficult months because of the court closures. It is so very hard to receive beautiful pictures of your children growing and changing in a country halfway around the world and all that is halting the process that would allow them to be home with us is torrential rains! Anyway, we are so very excited to be heading to Ethiopia on November 27th; I have booked our plane tickets using a travel agency that specializes in international adoption trips, and we actually ended up saving money using these people. When Tony entered our trip information into Travelocity, we were quoted a price of $2000 per person, but our travel agency managed to get the exact same flights for $1600 per person! Wow!!! With all of the expenses involved with this adoption, saving money in any form is deeply appreciated!!!! I am ready to meet my babies next month; I want to hold them and let them know how loved and wanted they are. I just hope that they will receive our hugs and kisses. I've heard many stories of couples who are faced with screaming, crying infants when they first meet their new son or daughter! What will be will be; we are prepared for a variety of scenarios upon our first meeting. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a warm reception! We'll see!! :0)