Sunday, April 29, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Violet has created our nickname for Anara. I think it is a quick Violet pronounciation of Baby Nawa. Right now B-girl and Beenow are looking at their reflections in our trash can. I got some pictures of them doing this yesterday. I also got some video of Violet trying to get Anara to make raspberry noises with her lip (see below).
Yesterday was full of visits. We are in the middle of a 1st Steps evaluation. 1st Steps provides early intervention therapies to help children with developmental delays. We are not sure whether Anara's delays will be significant enough for therapy, but if not, we can always find another way to help her. Anara was seen by a physical therapist, a developmental therapist, and a nutrionist. These visits were very helpful and we already have a few ideas.
Anara has had diahrrea since we arrived home. Yesterday the nutrionist recommended that I give her cereal at each feeding. If this does not help, we will be visiting Dr. Jim again. Her bladder seems to be looking better, but last night there was blood in her diaper and I wasn't sure where it was from. I will call today and let the MD know. We see the Pediatric Urologist tomorrow, and I will be relieved to make a plan for her surgery. We will also have an MD specializing in International Adoption and a Developmental Pediatrician following Anara.
Violet seems to be doing well with Anara. She still struggles with sharing, but this is normal and I would expect her to be a little upset by the fact that all of "her" things are now to be shared. She is going through a big "mine" phase. We worked with her before we left and now she is quick to respond as follows: if Violet says, "Mine" and I ask her, "Who's is it really?" she will say, "God's - He just lets me play with it." I don't think she can understand what she is saying, but it would be great for her to grow up with the idea that all things are God's.
Yesterday was Nate's first day back at work, and Violet had a bit of a rough time. I am hoping it was partly because she hasn't been sleeping well. Today has been a little better. I think we will have ups and downs, but thankfully I feel somewhat prepared to deal with it.
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Saturday, April 21, 2007
Here are some pictures from this week.
Violet watching Anara watching fish.
Anara and Noble (4 days apart in age)
Anara's 1st visit to Dr. Jim (pediatrician)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
It was so refreshing to get back to the States. One thing that is so noticeable about American people after being in foreign countries is how friendly most people are. It was very difficult to get so much as a smile from anyone in the countries where we traveled, and everyone was so quiet. Even if Americans have the reputation of being loud, we were glad to hear people talking and laughing and actually smiling back at us. And on the flight from Chicago, we were practically celebrities to the people sitting around us. Everyone asked about Anara and gave her so much attention. Maybe it's even more of a Midwest thing than an American thing...whatever, we were just glad to be back.
Walking from the gate to the security checkpoint, we knew some family and friends would be waiting. But when we got there, Amanda and I both immediately went to Violet. The poor girl had been up about four hours past her bedtime and looked so tired, but she gave us a good look and then some hugs and kisses that were worth the wait. And she felt so heavy to us! We both thought she must have put on about 5 lbs. while we were gone, but I'm sure it was only the contrast from having carried around 15 lb. Anara for the past week. Violet was immediately interested in Anara, and kept asking to "see baby Nawa." Unprompted, she gave her several kisses on her forehead. It was great, even if somewhat overwhelming, seeing everyone, but it was the sweetest and most emotional homecoming we've ever had, just like I knew it would be.
I drove the minivan home with my two girls in the backseat, and Violet repeating, "Hi baby A-nawa," and "Hi Mommy," and "Hi Daddy" all the way. While we were gone, we were told there was going to be a surprise waiting for us when we got back. We knew our brothers, Andrew, Bryan and Joel, had something to do with it and were going to be working on something together. We speculated on what it might be, but were not prepared for what it actually was.
Amanda and I had started working on a large closet upstairs to eventually turn it into a playroom for our kids someday. And we had talked about re-doing the guest bedroom where the closet/playroom is and making that the girls' bedroom. But that was a someday project...maybe I would pick up that project later this summer after the dust had settled from the adoption. So when we got home and saw what our brothers, with the help of Joel's wife Nicole, and our friends Christina, Greg and Alison, had done, we were completely blown away.
In one week, they completely turned those two rooms into more than what we ever thought we would do ourselves. It was incredible. I thought there might be hidden cameras somewhere filming it all for 'While You Were Out' or one of those other shows. It was that good. They put hours and hours of work into it. We are still overwhelmed and humbled that they did that for us...as if we haven't been blessed enough by the generosity and service of our friends and family lately.
We really can't say enough about the extent of how people have given of themselves throughout this adoption process, and we will never be able to repay it. I guess we'll just have to learn to humbly accept it and hopefully take opportunities to give and serve and pray for others in the same way. Anyway, we are extremely happy to be home and can't wait for you all to meet Anara!
Monday, April 16, 2007
That's all for now. The next time we post we may be back home. Can't wait to see everyone.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
We're not going to post any pictures today...it just takes too long to load them on this connection. If you're reading this, though, we would really appreciate your prayers for tomorrow. Our visa interview appointment is tomorrow afternoon at 3:00, which will be about 5:00 in the a.m. at home. It shouldn't be much more than a 10-15 minute talk with a representative at the Embassy. Just pray that they didn't find anything in our paperwork that they think is a problem and they allow everything to pass for us to go home on Tuesday.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Today our hosts, Lona and Dave, took us on a sightseeing outing. As I said in a previous post, we have been pleasantly surprised at the beauty of this country. After hopping a bus with all of the kids in tow and taking a nice walk to a park, we took a cable car to another park high atop a hill overlooking the city. Incredible views...the only disappointing thing was seeing how pollution here, just like in the U.S., casts such a haze over the city. Still, the air up there was fresh and Anara loved taking her first stroller ride. She got a lot of smiles from the locals because she was enjoying kicking back and playing with her feet (see the picture below). After the park we went to a Thai restaurant. I don't know if they're necessarily known for their Thai food here, but it was probably the best I've ever had.
Anara seems to be doing better and better. Last night her bladder was looking pretty sore and irritated and we were able to get a hold of our urologist back home to give us some additional advice on how to care for it. We prayed for her before bed and this morning it looked pretty good...I mean, I guess as good as a bladder on the outside of a body can look.
I think we are definitely starting to bond with her. We're getting a little more used to putting her down for bed and getting more of a hang of changing her diaper, which puts us more at ease and helps us enjoy her sweet personality. We can't wait for everyone back home to meet her...especially her big sister.
Tomorrow (Sunday) will be another day of rest for us, and Monday is the big visa interview appointment at the Embassy where we'll find out if we can go home on Tuesday. We have really enjoyed and appreciated out time with Lona and Dave and their kids (the sweetest, most well-behaved kids ever), and have been glad to have such easy contact with our family and friends back home. It has been refreshing.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Nate is busy feeding Anara some apricot juice, so I thought I would post.
It is Friday afternoon. We started out our day at the SOS Clinic to have Anara examined by the international physicians. We thought we understood the process, but apparently we didn't and I ended up shedding an unnecessary tear. Things turned out just fine.
It turns out that dropping the paperwork off at the Embasssy wasn't as scary as we had anticipated. They accepted our paperwork and thanks to our coordinator we had the correct number of copies and things looked great.
Please continue to pray that the Embassy approves all our documents and there is nothing to delay our departure.
Anara: Last night was a long one. Anara was up for almost 3 hours. She hadn't had a BM since we picked her up Monday and was really struggling with this in the middle of the night (hence the apricot juice she is drinking). We rocked and sang and rocked and walked and swayed and prayed and she still wouldn't sleep. Hopefully tonight will be better. Did we mention she can crawl. She is a great crawler. She can also pull up to things and stand on her skinny, little legs. She is pretty close to sitting, but this may be easier after surgery.?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
We actually just got done with a difficult Skype call home. Violet is staying at my mom's house right now and we couldn't wait to call and actually see her through the webcam. We started the call being able to see her and my mom, but they couldn't see us. That part went fine. But when Violet could finally see us, after a few minutes she got upset and kept saying, "Wanna see mommy, wanna see mommy. Wanna see daddy, wanna see daddy," and was reaching for the computer. It was too much and we had to just tell her we loved her and would see her soon and hung up. Fortunately, we had Lona here to talk to Amanda from a woman's perspective and help her feel better quickly.
It still feels like it's going to be a long time before we get to go home. And we are continuing to pray (and ask for prayer) that all the paperwork stuff would go through and that we will get to know Anara better and how best to care for her. We are being reminded that it is a difficult time for her, too. We love you all. As promised, here are some pictures we've taken so far.
We're about to take a 3-4 hour drive to our next destination where we'll get to stay with our friends for the next few days and take care of Embassy business there. We are still a bit worried about getting through everything there okay. We just don't want anything to delay our return home.
We'll write more later, and hope to finally have some pictures to share!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The saddest, thing, though is that she just hasn't been the happy baby she was. She isn't smiling as much and doesn't seem comfortable either being held or put down. It's like she's confused with what is going on and just can't get comfortable. Last night she did a lot of rocking and head-banging and hair-pulling in her crib, which Amanda says is a sign of an institutionalized child. Since she never really had anyone to soothe her, it is her way of trying to soothe herself. So it kind of hit us that this transition probably isn't going to be as easy as we would like. As I write this, though, Anara is sleeping soundly in Amanda's arms.
On top of all this, we are really starting to miss Violet. I know, we haven't been gone that long, but it sure feels like it. Amanda's mom sent some pictures that she took of her yesterday and it broke our hearts to look at them. We just hope she knows we're coming back.
Not that the last day was all depressing, though. Yesterday our driver, a 22 year-old student here, took us to a market where we loaded up on souvenirs. We wanted to try and get as many cultural relics as possible, things that couldn't necessarily just be bought online, that would be useful in teaching Anara about her home culture. He also drove us around so we could take pictures of some of the prominent city places, including parks, universities, government houses and a carnival, complete with bumper cars, karaoke machines, and mule-cart rides.
For lunch we went to a pretty trendy looking restaurant, and about halfway through our meal we noticed that some Americans had sat down in the booth behind us. We could overhear some of their conversation and figured they could probably hear some of ours. So as we got up to leave, the woman sitting there (with her daughter) commented on how pretty Anara was and asked if we were visting from the States. We said what we were here for and she told us she was here with her family working for a community development initiative. As we talked a little more, we came to find out that she was actually a close friend of the American woman who is here helping coordinate our adoption! And, that she had actually prayed for Anara that she would get adopted! She got teary-eyed coming to the realization that this was the baby and the family that she had prayed for. So we pick a random booth in a random restaurant and somehow make another connection. Add this to the list of "coincidences" and "good timing" that have marked this adoption process from the very beginning and it's almost impossible not to believe that God is orchestrating it all.
We will leave tomorrow, God willing, to go to our next destination to go through the second half of our process. We don't know what to expect at the Embassy there but are just praying for everything to go through so that we can come home when we are supposed to. We're very much looking forward to staying with and spending time with our friends there, for the additional encouragement and taste of home.
Please continue to pray for our bonding and attachment with Anara, for her cold, and for all of our paperwork and approvals to be passed without problems. Also, pray for Amanda and I, that we would enjoy our time together and be an encouragement to each other through the hard times.
Monday, April 09, 2007
After we met with her, our driver picked us up to go exchange some currency and buy a couple of cakes to take to the orphanage for the workers. We were told that was a very important custom. Feeling very excited/nervous/anxious, we finally got to the orphanage to pick up Anara. We only had about an hour before we needed to be heading to our appointment at the Embassy with the woman who is our social worker and adoption coordinator. I felt compelled to be a typical American dad and have the camcorder running as we walked in to meet Anara, and doing that I often feel like I can't really soak in the real experience. Still, it was pretty neat walking up to the room where we immediately saw Anara standing up in her crib looking at us. She looked to us just like she looked in her pictures. It was exciting and overwhelming for both of us to pick her up and hold her for the first time.
The doctor and the workers spoke to us about her through our driver/translator and it was pretty obvious that Anara was a very special baby to all of them. The doctor suggested that after our appointment at the Embassy, we bring her back to the orphanage so that Amanda and I could go back to the hotel to get some rest. We didn't really say no since she almost insisted, but when we left, our coordinator said it was okay if we didn't bring her back. So we didn't. We hope that the doctor and the rest of the workers are okay with that since we didn't give them a chance to say much of a goodbye. We are so grateful to them for taking care of her, though, and plan to send pictures and updates as she grows to assure them that she is in good hands.
It didn't take long for Anara to start to seem comfortable with us. Amanda is amazed at how quickly she laid her head on her shoulder. We were both anticipating a baby that might not want to be held, that might not look at us, might not show any emotion and definitely not smile very much. But praise God it hasn't been that way so far. When we've put her down or put her in her crib, she actually pulls herself up and gets a little upset if we don't pick her back up. She loves lying on the bed with us and just looking at us and playing with us. When we pick her up to hold her, she gets visibly excited. She doesn't mind us holding her closely or giving her kisses. I'm a bit proud to say that I was the first one to get her to laugh, and I've been pretty successful getting her to do it whenever I want. She's a very sweet baby and smiles a lot.
Here are the things we're still a bit uncomfortable with and could use prayer for, though. Anara's bladder looks okay and I think we're not too intimated caring for it, but we're not sure if we're doing everything right. She also has a bit of a cold and we hope it doesn't get worse. The appointment at the Embassy was a little uncomfortable, too, as it seems some of our paperwork didn't look completely okay to them. Finally (and I'm trying to wrap this up quick because someone is waiting for me to get off the computer), we're just not yet comfortable being in this country where so little English is spoken and where it's hard to feel welcome or acclimated to our surroundings. I'm sure it will get better with a little more time, but it sure makes us want to get back to Indiana sooner.
Okay, we'll post more later...probably won't get any pictures up for a few days, though, when we get to our friends' home. Thanks for all of the kind notes!
Big hugs and kisses to Violet for us, please!
Sunday, April 08, 2007
It's a bit rainy here this morning...warmer than back home, though. The drive from the airport to the hotel was fairly quick and gave us a chance to see some of the countryside as well as the city. It is a nice country--I'm looking forward to seeing more and learning more about it. The hotel we're staying at is beautiful! Very nice and clean and modern. Amanda and I just grabbed a bite of breakfast--very good, as well. She went back to the room to try to get a quick nap in before we get picked up in a few hours to go to the orphanage and meet Anara. We are both very much looking forward to that. We will take her with us from there and never give her back. Our hotel room had a baby crib set up in it when we arrived. Very cute and just one of those moments that made all of this seem more for real.
Oh, we had a chance to celebrate Easter yesterday in Heathrow Airport. We kept hearing announcements being made of a 'holy communion celebration' being held for all Christian denominations and decided to attend. It was in a tiny little prayer room, and was presided over by a minister from the Church of England and some of the airport chaplains. We sang some hymns, heard scripture and took communion, and there were people from all nationalities present. Anyway, we were glad we got to do something to remember and observe our Lord's resurrection, and it will be a nice memory for us someday.
Well, I'm still running on a bit of adrenalin, but I can feel it starting to fade. Thanks for all of your prayers and we will send another update as soon as we can!
Saturday, April 07, 2007
It is 1:13pm and we are all packed and ready to go. I think I might be pacing for the next couple hours until we actually leave for the airport. I am a little sad already about leaving Violet (she is sleeping upstairs right now), but mostly I have peace and for this I am VERY grateful. Thank you everyone for your prayers, support, and encouragement. This would not have been possible without such amazing family and friends. We love you!!
I don't think I could feel any more prepared to go than I do right now. Everything is all set and...uh oh, Amanda and her mom are over there hugging and crying. Here come the waterworks! Actually, Amanda has done very well so far with the prospect of being away from Violet this long. I'm not too worried that either of us will focus too much on that while we're gone. And Violet is oblivious at this point and can't wait to get going! Anyway, thanks again to everyone who called or talked to us before we left to offer prayers and encouragement. It is much appreciated.
If you'd like to pray for us while we're gone, here are some specifics:
*Pray for safety (for Violet, for Anara, for us traveling)
*Pray that we will trust God and have peace during our trip
*Pray that we would set good examples and be a good witness during our travel
*Pray for the babies that we have to leave at the orphanage - that God would move quickly to provide families for them
*Pray that the workers, coordinators, and missionaries commited to this part of the world would be encouraged and stand strong
*Pray that God would work out details of finalizing our adoption overseas and the readoption process when we return to US
*Pray that we have everything we need (paperwork and financially) to smoothly complete the Embassy process
*Pray for our neighborhood - that people will be safe and know that we love them (specifically the children)
*Pray that we will continually be renewed in the Lord and depend more on Him and less on ourselves and things of this world
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Yesterday, Violet and I ran around buying last minute gifts and travel necessities. We bought some little surprises to take to the missionaries we are visiting. I think we have everything we need, and now I just have to figure out how to fit everything in the suitcases without going over the weight limit.
We have prepped Violet as thoroughly as possible. I think she understands that we are leaving to go get a baby sister (not sure what she thinks a baby sister is) and she will stay with Meemaw. The goodbye will be much harder for us than for her. I am going to try really hard to be happy and excited and not to cry and make her scared or sad. We wanted to make her a little movie to see us, but we haven't done this yet.
Tonight will probably be busy packing and finalizing. I will try to post one more time before we leave tomorrow. But, if I don't, hopefully you will hear from us soon.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
First of all, before I talk about the adoption and all that has been going through my head regarding that, today is a big day for my dad. Today it was announced that he has been promoted to Editor of the News-Sentinel. He's been in position to get this for some time, but the announcement today and the story about it in the paper were nice recognition of his years of hard work and deservedness of his new title. He feels unworthy, of course, but I sent him a note this morning letting him know how proud I am--not just that he got this promotion, but that his life is an example of commitment and loyalty, and that he is where he is having always put God and family first. Thanks, Dad, and congratulations.
Here is a link to the story:
If you read the story, you may have noticed that the very last sentence refers to Kerry and Beth's "four grandchildren." It didn't occur to me until about five hours after reading it that one of those "four" is Anara! I had just been thinking about how at ease I feel about bringing home a new child, with all of the complexities and struggles, knowing that we have such strong family and friendships to support us, and that we don't have to do it alone. Through much of this process, I've centered on what Amanda and I can, or will try to, offer her. Anara, like Violet, is God's child and we have simply been given the awesome responsibility and opportunity to raise her, care for her, and train her up in the way she should go. Anyway, she'll be getting some wonderful grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends that God has already blessed us with and will no doubt use to influence her life in a positive way.
Which leads me to the next thing I've been thinking about a lot and wanting to post. I am SO thankful to all of you who have given us your support through this process--definitely for the monetary gifts (more on that in a second), but especially for the encouraging words and prayers. God's blessings have been so obvious to see in so many things that have happened with this adoption, and I believe many are the results of the prayers made on our behalf. We hope that each of you can feel that you played a special part in making it possible for Anara to have a family and a home.
As for the financial part of this, first of all, I can't believe that it has to be so expensive to do something so basic and so desperately needed as providing a home to an orphan. It's not right, and hopefully that will change someday. But it doesn't have to be a deterrent even now, as we have learned. I don't know what everyone reading this really thinks about asking friends and family or the church for money to help with the costs of adopting a child. Here are my feelings on it, though.
There are children without mothers or fathers and God has commanded us in his Word to look after them. Doing that unfortunately takes a lot of money that most middle-class families don't have readily at hand. We can, and did, use several means at our disposal, including taking out a loan and taking advantage of my company's reimbursements, to cover costs. But there was still a need, and we decided that if there was any cause for which it was appropriate to ask for financial support from family and friends, providing a home to an orphan needed no argument. Up to this point, people have taken the opportunity to give toward our adoption to the tune of almost $8000, and it's come from all different kinds of people in all sorts of ways, including a family whose little girls sent us what they had saved up in dimes after many weeks. The generosity we've seen is truly precious to us.
We live in the richest country in the world, and the means are there for most of us to take advantage of that to help others...sometimes all it takes is to ask, even if it means going against the grain of our culture's individualistic, make-your-own-way mentality. All that is to say, again, thank you to those of you who were able to contribute your resources toward bringing Anara home. Anara can be eternally grateful for your generosity, and we hope that she will get to meet each of you soon.
People keep asking me if I'm excited about the trip. I usually say something to the effect of "Yes and no." I'm mostly confident that what we're doing is a good thing, and that God will take care of us and everything will happen according to his will. I'm looking forward to travelling to a different country and learning about a different culture. And of course I'm looking forward to meeting Anara and holding her for the first time. But I still just have more of a sense of feeling like this is just the right thing for us to do. It may or may not be "fun"...I don't know and don't really care because I know it will be a rich experience either way. Leaving Violet will be hard, not because we'll worry about her, but just because we'll miss her. It should go fast, though, and I anticipate a pretty sweet homecoming. I'm especially looking forward to our TWO kids meeting for the first time.
I hope to post more later, both before and especially during the trip. We don't know what kind of internet access we'll have while there, though, so stay tuned.
Monday, April 02, 2007
We haven't heard anything about Anara for a while, but I am sure she is fine. It would be great to have frequent pictures, but it isn't really possible. We will just cherish the 6 we have and wait for another week to meet her. Next week at this time, we should have her in our arms (tired as they may be). I think we have the option of keeping her with us that 1st day. We could potentially pick her up from the orphanage Monday morning and never have to return her. I think some families do this and some families take a day to recover - we haven't decided for sure, but I am leaning towards keeping her with us.
I haven't started packing yet. I am trying to sort everything in my brain, and I don't start really thinking about it until I lay down to go to sleep. Tonight I think I will sleep with a post-it and pen to write down my good ideas. Today I got some baby clothes out. Anara is only 15 lbs. and I just took a guess and took out a range of 6-12 mo. clothes. We are also "nesting". I am washing walls, windows, curtains, rugs, and organizing everything. Nate is doing things that we haven't taken the opportunity to do like putting home movies on DVD and fixing random things around the house
This weekend was great (except a mild stomach illness for Violet that caused puking and diarrhea). Nate had Friday off and we had promised Violet Thurs. before bed that we would go to the zoo. She was up off and on Thurs. night and woke up Fri. at 4am puking. She puked about every 20 min. until 7:00am. Then she really wanted to go to the zoo. We had an appointment to see the pulmonologist at Riley. After the MD appt. we went to the zoo. It wasn't the most fun trip, but it was fresh air and we kept our promise. We had a great Saturday relaxing and enjoying each other at home. Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday in our Easter clothes from last year. My mom made Violet's Easter dress last year and it still fit, and she wore it yesterday.