Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

THAT is our new family motto. Well, it’s been our mantra since this whole process started, but KC and I have decided to make it official. I’m even going to paint it on a piece of wood or something and hang it in the house! Haha! Just. Keep. Swimming. It’s been perfect for our life the past few years. No matter what happens, good or bad, *singing* just keep swimming.
In case you live on Mars OR don’t have kids, that little blip is from Finding Nemo. Watch it if you haven’t. It’s fantastic. That is Dory’s response to anything bad that happens. Your son is kidnapped by weird aliens?! Just keep swimming... We’re in a sunken ship bordered by mines with 3 “vegetarian” sharks?! Just keep swimming… We’ve found ourselves surrounded by thousands of deadly jellyfish?! Just keep swimming… Lost in the Big Blue swimming in circles?! Just keep swimming….

You get it. Dory is always the positive one even though Marlin is constantly thinking the ABSOLUTE worst of every situation. I want to be Dory. Actually, I’m already like her in a few ways. Shiny object anyone? As far as a fictional character goes – she’s just awesome. (Don’t even get me started on Ellen DeGeneres – she was perfect to voice Dory. Seriously. Don’t argue.) No matter what came her way, she just kept on swimming. So that’s what we’re doing. Plugging away.
In case you didn’t read about it on Facebook, KC got a job as a recruiter for JB Hunt. *cue crowd cheering* A HUGE deal for our family. He’s been working from home as a trucking recruiter, but things have been slow. This season – has just been slow. This was a BIG blessing from God. In retrospect, it’s almost like this is where we were heading all along. Just the events that have transpired and led up to this point – it was all God. I mean, from KC leaving his job at Benton County, to living on one salary for 6 months, to my brother-in-law Mike offering KC a chance to work from home as a recruiter, an opportunity that gave him almost 2 years of experience – … it had to be God. This is definitely not a job KC would have picked out. He’s been military and law enforcement for, well… ever. The corporate world wasn’t something he ever thought he’d venture in to. But after interviewing with them on Monday and expecting to find out within a week or so if he got the job, they called him first thing the next morning and offered him the position. Yeah, amazing right?
As I mentioned in a previous post, it feels like God has had us walking (Isaiah 40:31) through all of this. From the adoption, to work, to life in general, progress has been slow. But now, we can see the end of at least this portion of it. I know we still have many battles to face, but this has definitely renewed our spirits.

So until God puts that last piece into place, we’re going to do just what we’ve been doing – just keep swimming.

Here's a little clip from the movie - it'll motivate you  or at least make you smile.   :) 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Most Commonly Asked Question....

I would like to preface this post with a warning - this will be long, in depth, and full of facts. So, please stay with me.

Do you want to know what the most common question people ask when they find out we are adopting from Ethiopia is?

........Brace yourselves........

"But she won't be, like HIV+ right?" Then, before we can answer, they continue with some form of the following: "That would be a deal breaker for me." or "I don't know if I could expose my family to that!" or "There's no way - she'd just be sick all the time and likely, you know, die." And I believe there was something else about spending so much to bring her back thrown in with that last one.

I'd like to point out that we've actually heard all of those comments. And you know what? It breaks my heart. Because I at one point, would've have thought those things. I likely would not have spoken them out loud to that person, but I'm sure I would have thought them. Why? Because HIV+/Aids is taboo. We don't talk about it. Please, don't take what I'm about to say the wrong way. But most people think HIV+/Aids and homosexuality go hand in hand.

So no one wants to talk about it. No one wants to learn about it. No one wants to help those who have it - no matter where they live.

One thing about choosing International Adoption is, we have a lot of training and classes we have to take in order to be as prepared as possible for the changes coming our way. And one of those things we learn about are common special needs in the region you're adopting from.

     -Ethiopia has 10-18 percent of it's adult population living with HIV/Aids.
     -There are 650,000 orphans who have lost one or both parents to HIV/Aids.
     -An estimated 67,000 people die every year in Ethiopia due to HIV/Aids

So what exactly is HIV/Aids. Well, first of all, HIV and Aids are not quite the same thing. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. According to the Project Hopeful   website:

-HIV is a virus which needs cells of a living 
organism in order to make copies of itself. 
HIV attacks the cells of the human 
immune system by using its cells to 
reproduce. The HIV virus causes AIDS.

Aids is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

-AIDS is a diagnosable medical condition. 
A person is diagnosed with AIDS when 
their immune system is weakened by the 
HIV virus to the point where it can no 
longer fight off infection.

So to put it plainly, HIV is a virus. When it goes untreated, it becomes AIDS. How do you treat it? Just like anything else, with medicine. Medicine called ARV's - antiretroviral drugs that you take at the same time every day. Sometimes, only one is required, sometimes a combination of 2 or 3. But that's pretty much it. Daily medication and checkups with a specialists a couple times a year to make sure the virus levels remain low.

Hmm, what else requires daily medication to keep it in check: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, women take birth control daily to prevent pregnancy... That's. It.

Oh, why of course! I'll answer those questions likely buzzing inside your head. Is it contagious, isn't she just going to die prematurely anyway, won't it costs a lot for "upkeep"? To answer these questions simply and straight forward: No to all three. From HIV to Home explains it a lot better than I can.

  • But isn’t HIV contagious? HIV is a very fragile virus, and there are very specific ways that it is transmitted. HIV is only transmitted when the virus enters the bloodstream. This only occurs through sexual contact; through the use of contaminated needles or other sharp instruments, or receiving a transfusion of HIV-infected blood products; and from a mother who is HIV-infected to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, labour and delivery, and breastfeeding. HIV transmission does not occur with normal household contact. It is not transmitted through tears, saliva, mucous or other bodily fluids. It is considered a “communicable” disease – meaning you can’t simply “catch” it. In addition, when an infected person is on treatment, the levels of HIV in the blood are brought so low that they are considered undetectable – meaning the possibility of transmission – even through contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid – is that much more remote.

  • Aren’t these children going to die after their families bring them home? Many people don’t realize that the prognosis for children on treatment for their HIV is excellent. They are expected to live long, normal lives. In fact, in the west, HIV is now considered a chronic illness rather than the terminal disease it used to be. Sadly, this isn’t the case for those HIV infected children living in resource-poor settings, where 50% of infected and untreated children are not expected to live past the age of two.

  • What if no insurance company will cover my child? Here’s the great news! It is a legal requirement that all adopted children be added to group insurance plans without pre-existing condition clauses in all 50 states! And many states also require that private insurance plans do the same! In addition, all 50 states have funding programs that will assist with the costs of HIV treatment within specified income guidelines.

Pretty interesting eh? I bet you (like I did) thought it was this horrible awful disease. You can't catch it by giving hugs and kisses, sharing a soda at the movie theaters, or snuggling with them when they're home with the flu. And contrary to popular belief, HIV+ children do not get sick more often than those without it.

What about when they get older? What if I adopt a daughter, what happens when she gets married and wants to have kids of her own? Won't it just continue in a vicious cycle? Again, no. As long as a woman stays on her ARV's continually and consistently, mother to child transmission has been virtually eliminated. Meaning, she can have healthy children that are not HIV+.

So what are we so afraid of? A stigma? Ignorance? That was me. When we went through this training, I was amazed at how ignorant I was of all the facts. I never thought to look them up. I had no need to.

But who am I to decide what she has? I understand that there are some people who are unsure about adopting "special needs" children. But let me ask you, if you had children biologically, would you have been given a form with a checklist of needs that you would or would not accept?

Don't get me wrong, KC and I sat there looking at this medical list, and there were some needs we knew we had to say no to. And it broke my heart. But for the most part - we checked WTD on 85%-90%. WTD: Willing to discuss. Because we are - we are willing to discuss them. It's been my experience (with wanting to find out more about a little girl we saw on our agency's wait list), that most of those big words on the list are just that - big words. And we're willing to follow God's leading on this.

With all of that said, it's time to answer the question most commonly asked:
Well, we don't if she will be HIV+ or  not. And even if she were, that's likely something we would not share with the general public. Due to such high public ignorance, I wouldn't blame her if she chose to keep this (or any other medical conditions) to herself.

So for those of you with friends just starting out in the process, please, PLEASE do not ask them such a thoughtless question. Because would she be any less worthy of adoption if she were HIV+? I don't think so, and I'd like to think others would feel the same. Y

                                                                    {Photo courtesy of Project Hopeful}

.....My only hope is in you.
                                                 -Psalm 39:7



Friday, November 9, 2012

Worth the Wait

Today I read a blog entry by a fellow adoptive momma entitled “Lessons from my son: Adoption is worth the wait”. I knew what would be in this entry before I even read it (well, most of it since we’re not quite finished yet). It was so funny to read phrases in her post that I’ve used over and over again . Waiting – it’s the common thread with adoptive families. No matter if you’re adopting domestically, internationally, from foster care or from an orphanage – even a momma pregnant in her second trimester with her 1st or 3rd child. We’re all subject to waiting.

But with adoption, it looks a bit different. First we wait are “actively waiting”. A time filled with paperwork, preparation and waiting for more paperwork from our agency, doctors, US government, agency again, Ethiopia, etc. all to just be “wait listed”. In Lauren’s perfect words “we were waiting to wait”. As I’m reading all of this, it kicks in hard. ‘Yish! We still have a looootttt of waiting to do’. But as I read further down about how hard it was in different ways for each step – waiting to be wait listed, waiting for a referral, waiting for that first trip – my heart wrenched when she got to the most difficult one: leaving Ethiopia after trip number 1 without your child and waiting on your final court date. You’d think it was hardest waiting for a referral, or waiting for that first trip after seeing their picture. But I agree with her, I think that wait before the 2nd trip will be the most difficult.

You see, the first trip is filled with joy and excitement, introductions, loads of new sights and sounds… and lots of bonding. But it will end on a somber note as we walk out the doors of the orphanage and make our trip back home – with empty arms. You see, in the eyes of the Ethiopian government, we will officially be Effie’s parents with that first trip. But unfortunately, the US Embassy still needs to perform their part of the process. So we go home to wait for our appointment with the US Embassy. We could be waiting only a few weeks or a few months.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about how excited I got just at looking at their homecoming pictures and realizing, that will be us. I will completely forget everything about how hard this process was when I’m standing there for the second time in the orphanage holding her in my arms. She will be ours by Ethiopian AND American standards. None of it will matter when I’m finally holding this little girl who has captured my heart before I’ve even laid eyes on her. That moment, that is what it all comes down to. And just seeing the sheer excitement in my heart seeing someone else’s homecoming pictures tells me one thing: I will be an utter mess between trip one and trip two. Lol. But after trip two, I’m sure I’ll just be beaming…. <3


Friday, November 2, 2012

Finally Friday!

It's Friday! Praise God because this has been a rough week. But none of that today. Today is a fun-day post! Wednesday was Halloween so I thought I'd share some pictures from our fun.

The boys dressed up as Sam and Frodo from LOTR. Caedmon got to dress up for his schools Book Character Day, so it worked out perfectly since both boys asked to be Hobbits. I love our little geeky family!

Caedmon was Frodo. His costume was made complete with a ring on a chain hanging about his neck. He was so sad when he got home because the cheap chain broke during recess. Luckily I had extras.

Oliver was his trusty BFF Samwise (also the name of our Golden Retriever haha!). His costume was made complete with his kitchenware weapon. We settled for a pot as the skillet was too heavy.

They both had cloaks, the Elven Leaf brooch, and even furry hobbit feet. I even messed up Caeds hair and smeared mud on his face. Hehe. They had a lot of fun and I love that the cloaks can be used again! And a BIG shout out to my Ma for helping me out by sewing up Oliver's. Our community sewing machine (okay, it's really hers but she lets us girls borrow it a lot) was kinda on the fritz. So we did it by hand. Thankfully, we took the easy route and only had to really sew one long line and lots of stiches to keep strings and such in place. So it was fun cheap project. All the supplies and material cost me between 15-20 bucks. Not too shabby!

I decided to dress up for work this year. Another homemade costume. I went as Rosie the Riveter. All I had to buy was 1/4 yard of red and white polka dotted fabric. And wah-lah! Rosie. I had way to much fun with the bright red lipstick. hehehe.

 KC was going to go as Tolkien - just by carrying around his pipe. But in our rush to get out the door, he forgot it. But we had a lot of fun with Halloween this year, as you can see. Not many pictures of Mr. Collins - he's a bit camera shy.  ;)

And now that it's November, that means there's only 20 days until Thanksgiving and turkey and pumpkin pie! And then, on the 23rd day of November, we start decorating for Christmas. This is hands down my favorite time of the year. I can't believe another year has gone by so fast. I bought a stocking for Effie this year. I think it'll be too hard to see her empty stocking holder another year. I don't even want to think about what it will be like if we experience another Christmas without her. But, enough of that. This is a happy, fun, Friday post! And so, I end it with this hilarious video: #$%@ (Stuff) People Say to Transracial Families. It's quite amusing - and a bit sad that we still think this way. But for the most part, maybe it will be an eye opener in a fun way. I know a lot of people are just curious, but I'm sure we can find other ways to ask questions. I know I've been guilty of saying at least one of these things. Lol. Mostly because we were interested in adopting and I didn't quite know how to bring it up - I'm sure I'll think of a better way now that we'll be the ones getting funny looks. 

Also, I've added a few new details to my page. Have fun finding the new little items.  :D 

Happy Friday!!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sometimes He wants us to walk

I just have to share what spoke to me from a word our pastor gave last Saturday. One I've been mulling over this whole week. This week of roughs and more downs than ups.

{Isaiah 40:31 - But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.}


Sometimes God allows us to soar over our problems and our trials. He picks us up and moves us from point A to point B. He allows us to be above our problems, not in the midst of them. (This is the way I'm sure most of us would choose.)

Sometimes, we'll just run straight through our problems. We'll experience them, but we go through the time quickly and come out on the other side still energized and raring to go.

And sometimes….

Sometimes He has us walk through the situation slowly. He could do it the first or second way, but more often than not, it isn't about the outcome, but about the life lessons learned. It's not about the adoption so much as it is what I'm learning. About how I'm growing in Him.

I'm walking through this slowly. I'm experiencing every lesson and every emotion slowly, thoroughly, and deeply. And I'm tired - but I've not fainted. I'm exhausted, but not defeated. Even though the process is going slower than what we hoped. We trust Him. God, Your way is better than mine.

So I continue to pray for renewed hope. In Him. To pray for wisdom. To pray that I have the strength to make it through to the end. Tired and worn out, but undefeated. This time of walking seems so long. But I know that as soon as we begin to crest that wave, we'll realize it went quicker than what we thought. My spirit will find new strength. I will continue to walk. I won't give way.