Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

-Ethiopian Proverb-

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.


  1. Dear Emily,
    We are a family who adopted through Dove. We brought home our two babies in Feb. of this year. Our daughter, Ana, was diagnosed w/ Sepsis as well, when she was in Ethiopia. We too were a bit concerned, but as I understood it, in Ethiopia, Sepsis is a general medical diagnosis given when they don't know the root of a sickness. In the U.S., as you found out, a person diagnosed w/ Sepsis can be much more critical. I certainly am not an expert in the medical field, though. Our daughter, Ana, did just fine upon coming home w/ regard to the Sepsis, and we saw no results. She was reported to have been treated w/ antibiotics and doing well, just as your child has been.

    Blessings as you continue the journey to bring your children home.

    Angie Laubach

  2. Hello,

    We are a Dove family waiting for a court date. The medical report for our 6 month old was worded exactly the same as yours in regard to sepsis....word for word. I appreciate Angie's comment regarding her baby and the sepsis diagnosis.
    So thrilled for your upcoming court date. Hope we will be joining you:)

  3. I am happy to hear that Ethiopian sepsis is different from American sepsis. It is a relief that our little one is safe and healthy. I am normally very calm when it comes to our adoption, but for some reason, this sepsis diagnosis really threw me for a loop. Perhaps my mothering instincts were kicking in. Regarding Angie's comment, I am glad to hear that your daughter was well and is currently healthy, and I thank you for your reassuring post. Regarding Susan, I thank you for the congratulations, and I hope you get your court date very soon.