Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Pony for the Princess.

Every girl wants a pony, right?  In this case, it's a lovely purple Pony - well used, but still functional, on loan courtesy of our wonderful PT!  The best news is, Marissa doesn't hate it!!  A few months ago, her rehab doc wrote for a Pacer Gait Trainer, but the likelihood of insurance covering it is slim to none.  We'll still have her trial one at some point, but in the meantime, the Pony is working out beautifully to get Marissa some time upright and even a little bit of weight bearing.  We have been working on getting her into a stander, but she absolutely will not tolerate it.  I think it is way too confining for her - too many straps, too much velcro; too much like being strapped down for an MRI, CT or other obnoxious medical procedure.  I'm grateful we found something she tolerates because it is so important for her to spend some time vertical.  She enjoys it, too, so hopefully it'll be motivating for her.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Totally Sporadic Post

I'm way overdue...for many things.  I need to explain my private blog, elaborate on our trip, talk about the kids - all of them, update on our adoption processes, wish you all a Merry Christmas, and of course post pictures, just to name a few.  I have wanted to post, really I have; but every time I sit down to try I can't seem to find the right words or formulate a nice flow for a post that will make sense.  So, I guess in an effort to just move along, I'll lay it all out in one big end-of-the-year conjumbled, sporadic mess. 

The private blog.  It is temporary, I think.  I needed a place that was safe for just a while.  Kevin and I have been under attack recently, unfortunately by members of our own family who have feigned support for over a year now.  About six months ago I was blindsided by one brother and two weeks ago, blindsided by another.  Much to our surprise, they do not agree with our adoption processes.  One equated letting his children play with ours to letting "his kids play outside in a lighting storm."  The other said that "we are adopting our children to gain attention for ourselves."  We were also told that we are doing a disservice to Esen and Marissa by adding more children to our family.  This coming from people who have never taken a moment to get to know them, who have found Marissa to be too overwhelming and too difficult - not worth their time.  They have passed judgement, blame, charged us with tearing our family apart when it is actually they who have opted out.  It is my job to advocate and educate, but I cannot cure ignorance.  I am at a place where I need to surround myself with people who can provide genuine love and support for us and for our children.

We have a motto in our home - "Families are Forever" -  It's a book we read often and anytime anyone's sad or worried, Esen repeats this mantra.  I intend to keep this motto going and I won't subject my children to the negativity and ignorance of others.  If people choose to isolate themselves, it is they who will miss out!

So, I needed to limit access to our family's story, to our childrens' stories, but I didn't want to stop sharing and I didn't want to stop chronicling our journey.  I feel like I have an important story to tell.  This blog isn't written for entertainment purposes.  It is first and foremost a journal for my kids.  It has also morphed into a support system and educational forum.  I have never forced anyone to read it, but I guess they couldn't help themselves and were frequently offended by the content.  In an effort to spare them, it'll be private for just a while.  For those who have stuck with us, Thank You!

We arrived home from Ethiopia on Saturday, December 10th, to the very sad news that my dear Grandmother had passed away early that morning.  She was a beautiful, inspirational woman whom I will miss very much.  While her health had declined steadily over the past several years, I don't think one is every really ready to say goodbye.  She was the epitome of grace, strength and unconditional love and I am so sad that she was not able to meet her newest grandchildren. 

Our time in Ethiopia was totally amazing.  I can't convey what it was like to be there, to experience the country, the culture; to see and meet and touch the people.  Simply telling you about it doesn't really mean much - you have to experience it.  I was talking with a friend about our experiences today and what I said to her was that we were long overdue for a life-changing trip.  We had one in Kyrgyzstan nearly 5 years ago and I didn't fully realize the backslide that had occurred in our lives until we went to Ethiopia.  Again, we have been reminded what life is truly about.  Our tiny, overpriviledged, little corner of the world is so insignificant in the whole scheme of things.  We met some amazing people, held some amazing children, and a piece of my heart will forever stay in Addis Ababa.  You will hear more in the coming weeks about some of the children we met there.  I have committed to doing more for them.

Bamlak and Hiwot are incredible, beautiful, precious souls.  They know fully that we are their parents and that they are coming to America.  Bamlak is a very sensitive little boy who will likely have some challenges at first.  He is also full of life and mischief and will likely team up with Esen to successfully turn the remaining brown hair I have grey!  Hiwot is a teeny, tiny bundle of cuteness that just dances around singing all the time.  I don't think I ever saw her without a smile on her face and her giggle is like nothing I have ever heard!  We HOPE that our case will clear the US Embassy by February - the final stage in this leg of the adoption process.  My Mom has decided she is up for a life-changing journey and will accompany me back to Ethiopia to bring the children home!

Here at home, our brave friends, Jean and Greg held down the fort and kept our beloved Esen and Marissa safe and sound while we were travelling.  We are so thankful to have friends that love and care for us and for our children as if they were their own.  The kids did awesome and (I think) Jean and Greg are still our friends! 

Esen has been singing Christmas carols for weeks and has been anxiously awaiting Santa's arrival.  Last night we took him to see Santa and he insisted that he wanted to take him a "lunch," so he packed him up some cookies and also carrots for the reindeer.   He has had a few selfish moments where he has mentioned that he wished there were "more" presents under the tree, but I have continued to remind him that he needs to be thankful for what he has and he has been very good about it.  We are having a pretty light Christmas this year, not only because of all of our adoption expenses, but also because when I look back at previous years, there's always just too much "stuff."  I still think we have too much and I intend to continually trim it down - wean them off so to speak.  They won't be deprived, just conscious of what they have and what others don't have.

Marissa....oh, Marissa.  She has had a rough past week or so.  Her gagging has slowly been returning over the past couple of weeks and is now back to near-constant.  She is also irritable and head-banging.  She has been sick on-and-off pretty consistently for about the past six months and her pediatrician is concerned that she may be developing asthma or another chronic lung issue - the joys of being a preemie.  She did have an MRI yesterday to rule out shunt malfunction just because of her recent behavior changes.  I'm happy to report it was the "best looking MRI" yet!  You know what that means - her FIRST CHRISTMAS without a shunt malfunction.  That's a lot to celebrate!  Her behaviors are quite unmanageable at the moment, though.  We could really use some good vibes sent out for her.  Despite getting her off one seizure med a couple months back, we've added daily nebulized meds and increased her constipation meds and she's on an immune supplement.  I would add Melatonin as suggested by her rehab doc, but sometimes it's just overwhelming to look at this pile of meds and consider adding yet another.

In Kyrgyzstan adoption news - we've not had any updates from our agency with regard to Kamila or how she is doing because as of last week, we don't have an agency!  I can't say I'm surprised because they have been, in my opinion, inching towards closing the doors for quite some time now, but I can say that they way they did it and notified families was total crap.  They sent a form letter out via email to some families, but not to others so some had to find out via word-of-mouth.  What this means for us and the process is uncertain.  We still have our attorney working for us and Kyrgyzstan hasn't yet announced the three accredited agencies.  We will have to go with one of the three who is accredited by the Kyrgyz government.  Our file will be transferred and hopefully all will work out, the biggest hurdle is likely to be a financial one.  New Agency = all new Agency fees.  Still, she is our daughter, has been for 3 1/2 years and I've said it a million times - we won't walk away from her.

This Holiday Season, we have been unbelievably blessed by the generosity of some very kind-hearted souls who have supported our adoption through financial gift and prayer.  We are grateful beyond words.  There are times when "Thank You" seems so inadequate and we have had several of those moments lately.  I am continually amazed by the selflessness I see in others.  You know who you are - you have to know that you have changed the course of our lives and of our childrens' lives and we are and will always be eternally grateful!

I think that's it in a nutshell.  Merry Christmas to each of you.  I hope the Holidays bring you peace and love, happiness and strength.  I hope you all have good health and take the time to remember what is truly important.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Give Hope in Ethiopia

Children at the Lifesong Ethiopia school  are fed 2 nutritious meals per day, provided with a quality education, and taught the message of Jesus Christ. This gives kids like Beza the hope they need in order to break free from gripping poverty.
We currently have a need to build a 12-room expansion to our existing school, in order to reach more children like Beza. We have been blessed, by the generosity of a donor, to be able to MATCH all donations to the Ziway and Adami Tulu Schools between now and December 31st... up to $130,000!!!

This week, the 5th through the 9th, we invite you to join Hope Ethiopia:100. We are looking for 100 people to give a one-time $100 donation
Joining this team will not only give hope to kids like Beza, but your dollars will be matched AND you'll be entered into a drawing for a FABULOUS gift basket (details below).

Help us achieve the next $10,000 by being a part of our Hope Ethiopia: 100 Team!
Together we can make a difference in the lives of these kids!  Together we can do more to bring joy and purpose to orphans!
And don't forget to keep checking the Lifesong blog for updates all week!
*Gift basket includes: $100 itunes or amazon gift card, Lifesong t-shirtLifesong cookbook,Journey On CD, handmade necklaces & note cards by orphans in Zambia, handmade ornament from a child in Ukraine, 5 bags of Gobena coffeeGobena coffee
Gobena t-shirt, andGobena tote bag. This basket is worth over $250!

*To commit via check, please send an email to Make check payable to Lifesong for Orphans, indicate 'preference Hope Ethiopia: 100' in the memo.

Friday, December 9, 2011


A hard, hard day - lots of tears were shed.  We're leaving a piece of our hearts here in Ethiopia.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Okay, I've tortured you long enough. Oh, and yes, they have names!
Without further adeu, we're so proud to introduce the two coolest kids
in Addis Ababa: Bamlak & Hiwot!

Today was a very emotional day to top off what has been a roller
coaster ride of a past week and a half. I'm going to keep this post
strictly adoption related, although I will say there's been a ton of
really heavy stuff going on that has just compounded our stress

Last Wednesday, we received a call from our agency coordinator.
Actually, I got an email and a message on my cell - both stating that
she wanted me to call her as there had been an "interesting
development" in H's case. I don't have to tell anyone experienced
with adoption that this is NOT something you want to hear, especially
4 days before boarding a plane for your children's court hearing.

My stomach turning, I called her and got some pretty shocking news. I
won't share it here as it is H's story to keep for herself, but it was
very difficult to get on the plane and go through the first couple of
days here not knowing what was going to happen. Needless to say,
things have worked out the way they were intended and here we are,
parents to two more amazing, beautiful little miracles!

Our court hearing today was less than five minutes, our coveted MOWA
comment was there and the hearing concluded with those four glorious
words: "Congratulations, they are yours!."

The highlight of our day was definitely our visit with the kids. They
sang "Mommy...Daddy...Mommy...Daddy..." for the entire three hours we
were there. They rarely wanted to be put down. We're starting to see
their personalities a little more and it's interesting to imagine how
they're going to fit into our family. We can see that food will be an
issue, as will sharing toys and attention - those things all to be
expected. They are both incredibly smart and pick up on things very
quickly. We're still pretty surprised at how tiny they actually are.
The measurements they give us each month correlate to Esen and
Marissa, but in person, they definitely don't match up. H is wearing
a 2T and B is wearing a 3T. Guess I should've held onto some smaller

There's another very sweet family here from Tennessee who are adopting
a sibling group of three from the same orphanage, H's best friend and
B's best friend among them; so we've enjoyed spending time with them.
We're enjoying the restaraunts, shops and went to the National Museum
this afternoon. The only thing we're not enjoying is the pollution -
my sinuses and lungs are truly hurting.

Tomorrow is a light day as all the "business" is done. We see the
kids, have lunch, visit another orphanage and probably do a little
more shopping. I love it here, I can't imagine leaving B & H
behind. I can't imagine that final goodbye, but at the same time, I
miss Esen and Marissa so much. We Skyped last night and it was so
hard not to just scoop them up and hold them. Soon, very soon, I
hope, we will all be together.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hello From Addis Ababa

We made it in late Mon night.  Our travel was awesome, smooth, perfect, really!  We just finally got an internet connection and it's not the best, but I'm attempting to make some contacts.  We met the kids today and they are absolute sweet angels!!  We are so in love!!  Tomorrow is court, more time with the kids, probably some sight-seeing and some shopping.  Addis is an amazing city and we are once again being reminded why there is so much to be thankful for.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bon Voyage

We leave this morning!  I really can't believe it.  I'm not quite ready to share the events of this week that have lead to the privatizing of my blog or that can explain my somber silence over the past few days.  It's been a lot to take in.  Perhaps over the next few days, I will have time and energy to share more.  Please keep our dear friends, Greg and Jean in your thoughts and prayers as they embark on their own journey of caring for Esen and Marissa this week.  We are so grateful to have friends who love us and love our children unconditionally. 

I hope that I'll be able to update from Addis, but I'm told the internet connection is sketchy at best, so I'll try.  I think I'll at least be able to email some posts in and hopeful I'll even be able to include a picture or two!