Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy 3 Month Birthday to The Princess

Even though it is 10:00 p.m., here in the states, it is tomorrow in Kyrgyzstan and our Ellie has just turned three months old -- legally able to go to court now. I spend a lot of time wondering about her and today is no different. At her two month birthday, Kevin took video of Josh and I singing Happy Birthday to her. Today, there will be no one to sing to her. We will also miss the four month birthday singing as well. Our comfort is in knowing that hopefully we will not miss anymore of them.

So, as I sit here, I sing a quiet version of Happy Birthday to Ellie-belly, The Princess and hope that today there is a breeze to cool her sweat, a warm bottle to fill her tummy, someone to hold her and possibly take her for a walk outside, someone to sing to her, someone to change her when she is wet or dirty, a pacifier to soothe her and a moment in her heart where God reminds her that the wait time is drawing shorter and soon -- very, very soon == her mommy and daddy will be back to get her.

How Did I Get it All Wrong?

It's interesting that after we found out Ellie was sick (which she isn't), and had to turn down the referral, I spent a long time wondering how in the world I got God's messages so wrong. I said that to my Sunday school teachers this week when we were talking about our newest development in finding out she does not have a disease and will be able to come home with us. I said, "I was struggling with God because I felt so certain that His messages to me were so clear and that, without a doubt, this was our daughter." My soul's biggest problem was, "How did I get it all wrong?"

I wonder, in life, if sometimes we miss the signs God is sending our way or if we mis-interpret them into what we want them to be? I have continued to struggle with that portion of what happened with Ellie's situation. I don't struggle in knowing that she IS our daughter. I think we are SO VERY clear on that. Her story is one that is nothing short of miraculous. I've just been reading back through this blog and I see references to occurrences where I note that this is definitely a sign from God that He has fulfilled a promise to us (our rainbow), or the dream I had the night she was born. I had absolutely no doubt at that time that it was a clear communication to me. I still don't have doubt about those things, but I wonder how many things we miss that He sends our way -- or worse, how many things we get wrong. It has just disturbed me and was something I wanted to share in case others have input they would like to share.

But, to clear up any doubts you might have after reading this, we KNOW this little Princess is OUR daughter - hand picked from God for our family.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"The Princess" is NOT sick and is coming HOME!

This is a cross post from my other blog:

Do you know how WONDERFUL it feels to write that title???

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His loving kindness is everlasting.

I Chronicles 16:34 and Psalms 118:1 and Psalms 118:29 and Jeremiah 33:11

As I was researching to find the verse that fit how GOOD our God is, I found it interesting that in three places in the Bible the SAME words are used to convey the goodness of God. I think it should be no surprise that this statement should be written by people through the ages and I am so glad to be able to share that information with you all today. For those of you who have shared with me (and there have been many) that your faith is not my faith, I do not make light of your faith and your belief, but let me share that the God that I serve, love and worship is ONE MIGHTY BIG GOD who loves me a whole lot. My wish is that everyone could experience the magnitude, the love and the grace of my God.

As you all know and have followed along, we were given a referral of a BEAUTIFUL little one and travelled to Tokmok to visit with her and came to find out that she allegedly had a medical condition that we felt was way beyond our ability to handle. Through prayer and soul searching and with great heartbreak, we decided to turn down our referral and wait for another one. We came home and began moving on with our lives. And, actually, I had a conversation with my preacher that I was a bit disturbed that I wasn't more upset about this than I was.

On Wednesday this week, I was out with my son, my two nieces and my mother-in-law after we had taken the kids to see the free movies in Nashville. We had stopped at McDonalds and gone to the park. I noticed I had a voicemail on my phone and checked to see who it was. It was our agency calling and asking me to call back. I was a bit taken aback as I was not expecting to hear from them until after July 7. I called back and talked with Brent who told me that they had had the records reviewed by a very well-known, well-respected doctor who specializes in that medical condition and who is an international adoption doctor and that she said our little one did not have this issue. I stood, silenced for a bit. I asked if we could have an international adoption doctor from our area review the files and conference with the agency and orphanage doctor (who is in town, luckily) and he said he would facilitate making that happen if I could get it together by Thursday or Friday (no pressure -- one day!). The conversation with the agency was a long one and I walked away with wounds ripped back open and the pain all fresh and new. I called Kevin, who was out in the field behind a drill rig and unreachable -- JUST MY LUCK.

After I got home, I managed to make contact with Vanderbilt's International Adoption Clinic, told my story, explained our situation and the urgency of quickness. Josh asked if we could go to the golf course for him to hit balls and I agreed so I could have some quiet time to ponder this information. I will not say that I was able to accept, agree or process this information right away. It was just too -- odd. I called and left a message with the doctor that our agency had talked with and asked if she would call me back as well.

I got NO calls back on Wednesday. Probably best as I was still just in a state of shock and confusion (as can be evidenced by the post that night). I didn't believe it and thought there must be some mistake. The waiting and soul and mind searching were so incredibly hard. To be back in this place I thought I was past and had left was really hard.

On Thursday, Josh had a doctor's appointment and we were getting our hair cut. I got calls back from the Vanderbilt doctor and got the conference call set up. She spent about 30 minutes going over the information I had sent her and about the condition and possibilities. After that, she was scheduled to make the conference call. While I was getting my hair cut (great timing, eh?) I got calls back from both the Vanderbilt doctor and the specialist. I spent at least an hour on the phone with the specialist and about 30-45 minutes on the phone with Vanderbilt with them both explaining everything in her file and how they both came to the same conclusions -- independently -- that she did not have the medical condition we were concerned about. They were, in fact, both more concerned with her prematurity and small size and growth than anything else. That is something that just doesn't concern me at all -- when she is home, she will be "fluffy" like the rest of us, I'm certain. However, we were asked to get new measurements to see if the little peanut was growing.

I didn't expect to get the new measurements until next week, but on Friday, I got a call from the agency with new measurements. I immediately called Vanderbilt to share them as I was expecting an additional call back from them between 1-2 after they had reviewed her photos. After that phone call with her and the information she shared, both Kevin and I agreed that we had no reservations accepting her referral.

SO..... long story short -- we are back in the adoption process!! We don't know exactly when we will return to pick her up. I know there are those who are returning mid-August and I am hopeful to be able to return with them. I am still waiting to see if they will be able to get the paperwork done in time for her to go to court the week the staff returns to Kyrgyzstan.

So much to do now -- arghhh!! :-) But, we are SO excited. God has returned our joy to us; He has given us back our daughter. What an incredible blessing -- what a miracle.

"The Princess" is coming home. Thank you, God!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Still not sure

I'm still not sure what to do with this blog right now. My heart says, "Keep it and wait" and so I do. This is my first visit back to the site since we had to make "The Decision." For those of you who continue to stop by -- hoping for news. I suspect there might not be any here for a little bit. Thank you for continuing to care. We love you all!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Prayers Needed

This is the hardest post I may have to write.

Our family has been dealt a devastating blow today and we request your prayers. We received test results today indicating the baby we had planned to adopt, our Ellie, has a medical issue that as a family we do not feel prepared to handle. We do not feel it is appropriate to expound more on that as it is her personal story and truly not ours to share. However, what is ours to share is the pain and loss we are feeling as we have decided that we are unable to accept the referral of this beautiful baby. We ask that you are supportive should you choose to leave a comment as we are not emotionally up to defending our decision at this point. We are emotionally not up to much. All three of us have sobbed and held one another through this grief that has felt immensely like a death. It is a death -- the death of the dream of our life with this precious child.

We did not make this decision lightly. We have considered our lives as a family and her life and how the two would inter-relate and have determined that we are just not able to parent her in the way she will require. We are broken.

In this brokenness, however, we are held up and together by the God who met us in that room with the test results. He was with me in the car on the way there as I prayed to be able to accept anything they might find. He has held us when we cried. I spent the afternoon reading the Bring the Rain blog and sobbing with her loss and her worship of God through it all. God reminded me through the one hour drive back from the orphanage of the verse He shared with the me other day today: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. I have searched for His purpose in this and have found that the "missionary work" our family might have been called to do during this two week period was to love on a sick little girl. I read, again on the Bring the Rain blog of her realization that Either You Do or You Don't (trust in God). God talked to me about this on our trip back today and through tears I admitted I do. I will trust Him. It is my choice. Does it make our pain less -- no, not really, but it does help me accept something I can't understand at all. It doesn't mean I don't question, "Why?". I surely do. It means that no matter what the answer to that question, I have to believe in His authority and superiority in making decisions for our lives.

We are in constant prayer for this little one -- that she gets the medical treatment she needs and hopefully finds a family who is more equipped to handle her needs.

Our agency is in the process of searching for another referral for us. We are unsure when this will happen. We do know that we will travel home as scheduled on Sunday. This has been especially hard on Josh. How do you explain this to a ten-year-old who was in love with a baby that should have been his sister? Life lessons like this one shouldn't have to be learned so early.

We appreciate your support of us at this time. We covet your prayers and understanding if we are a bit withdrawn for a while. We need just a little time to grieve.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Slow Day ...

It was a slow picture day for Ellie-belly and the Lathams. She didn't do much other than sleep and eat and, as Kevin says, "How many pictures can you take of a sleeping baby?" So, here's a few, just so you all get your daily "fix". We only have a few that are really worth looking at today as they were blurry too.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to walk around and get pictures of the orphanage and some video of it as well.

We did have to take a photo of our entire family to include to send to the judge so we got that today. There is a DIET in my future as soon as I come home -- right after my visit to the Cracker Barrel! :-)

We took some clothes for her today. The outfit she is wearing is a newborn size. It was too big. *sigh*

Josh is beginning to "tire" of her and doesn't hardly want to hold her at all. As we were getting ready to leave, he did hold her for about 30 seconds. I sense there might be some jealousy cropping up. I think it might be something that only time and some extra hugs will handle.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Future's So Bright, I Gotta' Wear Shades

When we arrived today, one of the mom's that is here visiting her son gave Ellie a gift -- the above baby sunshades. What a funny sight she was and we all laughed. Funny thing is, she apparently liked them. The sun is bright and she'll close her eyes if we walk in the sun. We looked and she had her eyes open behind the shades.

Josh thought she was funny looking too, with her big glasses and pacifier. Sharon, those glasses remind me of the ones you used to wear! ;-) (sorry, couldn't resist!!)

Then Josh, ever the clown, tried them on for some poses.

Ellie's belly was feeling much better today. They've reduced the formula a bit and at the end of the day, she ate like her normal champion self. I've been noticing that her cheeks are getting big. Allison, I think you might have a run for your money on the baby with the biggest chipmunk cheeks pretty soon. :-)

This is her smiling for the camera and starting her "pageant" wave.

Then, we were told we could come back and watch her get her massage. Apparently, for the next 30 days, she will get baby massage. Now, I'll be real honest, I was a bit jealous - a massage every day for 30 days. What woman wouldn't want that. I wish you could have heard this baby moaning and squeaking as the was getting her massage. :-) It was SO FUNNY. We videoed a bit of it so the grandparents will be able to see when we get home. Of COURSE, if anyone else wants to see when we get home, we COULD host a viewing (ha ha!).

Isn't this precious?
First the feet and legs.
I LOVE this picture!!
Lift the "tooshie" -- building some ab muscles.
Over for the back side.

Shoulder rubs
This is the one I call the "AHHHHH" pose. She has her hands out to the side and looks to be so relaxed.

Working on her leg muscles to help her stand.

Helping her work on sitting up.
And, after it was all over, a nice warm bottle. Note the slits, she was just near toast at this point.

I swear I left her sighing in her crib. :-)

So, we had a great visit today. I saw several more babies that will be going home before Ellie does. They were all doing well. The caregivers really love the babies here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"It's probably her new formula"

This morning we received a call from Aliya, our interpreter, who told us that Ludmilla, our coordinator, had talked with the orphanage director about our concerns about Ellie from Sunday. Tatiana indicated that they had indeed changed Ellie's formula to the kind we brought and that because of it, she didn't need to take as much. She was at 90 ml (about 3 oz) every three hours. We were told that with this formula, initially, she won't need as much. I'm wondering exactly what she was on before.

Based on some reading that indicates a good rule of thumb is 2.5 ounces per baby's weight, E. would need about 16 ounces a day. So, she probably was getting about 24 ounces a day, but likely not full strength formula. Based on her age, though, this was about right.

I was told not to worry that she would be fine. I hope when we visit tomorrow we will find that her upset tummy is soothing and she is adjusting better to her new formula.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Princess doesn't seem to feel well

I can't put my finger on it, but I don't think "The Princess" felt well today. She had her eyes open a large part of the time we were with her, but she was fussy, had the hiccups, burped (yes, she can!!), didn't want a pacifier and didn't seem to want to eat.

Today we didn't have our interpreter or coordinator with us. We had the routine down so when we got there, I went to her room. The caregiver made a motion for me to wait a bit. When she came out with her, she was awake and she had the hiccups.

We went out to the covered shelter area and visited with her a while and took some photos. She did a good job of looking at us and seemed fascinated with Kevin. She wouldn't take her eyes of him when he held her. She wasn't quite so into Josh or I today, for some reason. During one period she was quite fussy and then let out a burp leading me to believe that maybe her tummy isn't feeling so well. Ironically, I awoke with an upset stomach. I took some Pepto this morning and it's better but still doesn't feel just "right". We've thought about what I might have eaten, but I haven't eaten anything different from Kevin or Josh. It's much better, but at one point this morning, I was concerned about getting to go to visit.

We did notice that she had exceptional head strength today holding her head up and looking around by herself. She was griping our fingers so hard at one point that the tips of her fingers were white. She also has seemed to have some difficulty getting her left eye (right if you are facing her) open as wide as the other. Not sure about that. It might be normal, but we'll want to check on it for sure.

And so, while in all these photos she seems "fine" and "happy", there were so many more that she didn't, including the one where, after she ate just a bit she spit it all back out. I tried to get her to eat (and she is a champion eater), and she just wouldn't. I finally gave up and took it to the caregiver to tell her she wouldn't eat. The caregiver only speaks Russian, I think, but she took her and was talking to her calling her, get this, "Princess". :-) Her bottle wasn't as hot as normal, and I'm not sure, if with our recent formula purchase if she has a different kind or more or something. I just got the feeling she didn't feel well.

So... now I'm a bit anxious about not visiting tomorrow. It might be best, though, to not get her up and stirring about. I'll be sure to talk with Aliya tomorrow when E. and B. go over and see if she can check on her and report back.

After the orphanage, we went "sight-seeing" but I'll cover that on my other blog.

Interestingly enough, while we were there today, the U.S. Airforce servicemen and women were there bringing donations. Kevin spent a while talking to some of them. It was SO COOL to be able to talk English with them. :-) They brought a great deal of things for the orphanage. It's so cool to see another side of the military that doesn't often get portrayed back home.
We also got to me K's hubby and daughter and spend more time with K, K and I and their babies. I know that I will be forever connected with these moms that I met in an orphanage on the other side of the world and will want to continue to follow the blossoming of their children once we all get home!