Friday, July 22, 2011

I Have a Tick... Or Maybe a Few?

Before I get into my ticks, I want to thank you guys so much for all your encouragement, prayers, and advice for us since my last posts!  We appreciate every one so much!  It means more than we can ever put into words!  With the suggestions many of you have offered and much prayer and patience, we are making some progress, but I will do that in another post. 

No! These can't be found in MY garden!
I do have a lot of ticks, when I start to really think about it.  One of my worst ticks is that I like to have things done before the weekend comes.  I want the laundry washed, folded, and put away; the house cleaned; the lawn mowed; meals and desserts prepared; the car washed; the house in order and all the projects done so that I don't have to do any of that on the weekend.  Well, as we added more children to our family, I have had to learn to let some things go because my girls are only going to be little for a short time, and my house can always be clean and my laundry pile can always be gone and my yard can always be beautiful twenty years from now when they are all grown up. 

Hey, these weeds can be beautiful, too!

 So, I have to walk through the house with blinders on my eyes and play with the girls in the yard with my eyes closed or I get overwhelmed by the projects that I can find there.  :)   I remember getting angry seeing 10 workers working outside on beautifying the yard where we adopted Eliisa from and yet watching kids strapped into wheelchairs or sitting on benches without any toys to play with or anyone to give them any attention for hours.  Yes, sure a nice appearance to the orphanage or institution is important, but is it important enough that children get even more neglected in the process?  NO!!!  So, I have tried to ignore that tick I have since bringing home Eliisa.  But like most things that we try to ignore, there comes a time when I see the weeds growing in my flower beds and the grass growing taller than my two-year-old or from the sidewalk into the street from lack of edging even when my eyes are closed. :)  There comes a time when I can no longer tolerate walking barefoot in my house because there is so much dirt on my floor, my feet are always dirty. :)  And a time when I can see the soap scum turn a deep brown around the bathtub rim from little girls who love to play outside and need to get clean sometime before the whole house will get sick.  And a time when I can't walk through the house early in the morning without tripping over half the toyroom spread all over my house and thus waking up the whole house.

So, this week, we only had one doctor's appointment, so I decided to attempt to get one or two of those things done every day of this week.  On Monday, I had to pick up a prescription for Eliisa, so although I really DISLIKE Wal*Mart, I decided that I had to face it in order to get the prescription filled the cheapest.  :)  So, I decided to ignore all the looks I knew I'd be getting and take all five girls and get it done and hopefully a couple other errands along the way.  We were gone all morning, but I am proud to say that we successfully stocked our pantry, fridge, and medicine cabinet and I didn't even pull all my hair out (only the gray ones!:)).  And I made sure that those people who were in the stores that we were in, will NEVER go shopping on a Monday morning again.  :)  On Tuesday, we recovered from Monday, and then tried to go outside to do a little work in the yard in the evening.  It did not go so well, so I had to abandoned my efforts in the middle of the edging. 

On Wednesday morning, I decided to try again, and was able to get much of the yard done while the girls were happily entertained on the swing set and in the kiddie pool and later finish it during nap time.  Why, oh why did we ever buy a house with a corner lot?  It increases the amount of edges exponentially. And then I discovered that while so dutifully taking care of my yard, I really got a REAL tick!  Praise the Lord, I was able to remove it's full body from where it had tried to make a new home, BUT let's pray that it did not give me any diseases while it tried to make my body its home!  I cannot get sick at such a time as this!  :) 
Why would anyone ever be afraid of all of us?! 
 On Thursday, I took all five little girls to a doctor's appointment in the big city.  When the nurse saw all six of us coming into the office, she quickly ushered us to a treatment room and shut the door.  :)  It was a quick and easy appointment anyways.  Since I can't let all that gas go to waste, I made a couple of other very important stops on the way home including picking up a new frame for my glasses which did not survive the last tantrum.  Although I said I was walking around with my eyes closed for fear of seeing the projects, I need to at least see the road while I am driving.  :)  And we made it home all in one piece! 
And then came Friday.... Today, I was able to at least get the surface dirt in my kitchen, bathrooms, and floors cleaned up.  All of the girls had an awesome day-the best day since coming home.  I am so thankful and know it was all of your prayers for us getting us to this point!  And now, I am sitting here to complete one other tick that I have-to update the blog so that you all don't think that life is all terrible around here.  It is NOT!  We do have a lot of good times together along with the tough times.  But we also wanted you to know that, yes, it is not always easy, which is one more reason to go and bring home one of the 147 Million orphans in this world!  And now, for one last tick of the day... I am going to sit here for the next five minutes and enjoy my "clean" house before five little monkeys get up and turn it upside down.  :)  Ahh... too late already!  Off to the pool we go because at least there, I am not responsible for any projects. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Urgent Prayer Request for Another Adopting Family

This prayer request is one that I could have written a few short weeks ago.  I haven't shared this miracle the Lord did with you all yet, because well at the time, I had no idea how good the Lord was to us.  When I took Eliisa to the medical clinic for her medical evaluation to be cleared for her visa to immigrate into the U.S., the doctor there reviewed her medical records and wanted her to have a chest x-ray.  Due to the language barrier, I did not fully understand why she requested the x-ray, although I did understand that it was because Eliisa had TB at some point in her life in the orphanage.  The chest x-ray came back clear, praise the Lord, and we were cleared by the doctor for our visa.  Since returning home, we have visited our pediatrician twice for testing to find out if she did indeed had TB.  I found out then that the reason there was concern at all is because Eliisa was only treated for 3 months, when the normal course of treatment for TB here in the U.S. is supposed to be for 9 months.  Eliisa did test positive for the skin test (as she should have since she did have TB), and per the advice of the infectious disease doctor, we have started her on 9 months of TB antibiotics. 
Now to the prayer request: The Warner family adopted their son Joshua from the same country we adopted Eliisa  from.  When they went to the medical clinic that has to sign the medical release this past week so that they could complete their journey home, they found out that Joshua has either pneumonia or TB.  If he has TB, he will not be issued a visa nor allowed to travel home until he completes at least 6 months of treatment in U.  However, in order to rule out TB, three sputum samples must be obtained.  In order to obtain these cultures the doctor is telling them that he must be sedated.  Since Joshua has Down Syndrome, sedating him is very risky and not optimal.  However, if they choose not to do this test, they have to remain in country to have Joshua treated for 6-8 weeks for pneumonia before another chest x-ray will be obtained to make sure that he does not in fact have TB.  Staying for 6-8 weeks in U. away from family, friends, and being treated by foreign doctors would be very hard on the family and they do not have the funds to be able to do that.  Also, Lisa Warner's sister passed away yesterday unexpectedly, and they really need to be able to come home to be here for her family.  Please pray that the Lord would intervene mightily on this family's behalf and that they would be able to decide the best option for their son and that he could be cleared to travel home so that he can be treated and get well.  You can read the Warner's blog here.  This is how great our God is because we could have also been retained in Eastern Europe for weeks or months.  Praise the Lord for His goodness to us! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Back! :)

I know, I know!  I left all of you hanging and for that I am very sorry!  The last couple of weeks have been VERY busy and often very stressful and overwhelming.  I had a lot of growing to do and the Lord is still working hard at teaching me. 

The past three weeks have been by far the most challenging weeks of parenting in my life.  Now, remember that at one point I had four little girls under the age of four, two with special needs, and my husband was an over-the-road truck driver and not home except for on the weekends and then he needed to catch up from lack of sleep and pre-sleep for the week ahead. :)  To give you an idea of what the past few weeks have looked like without giving you the WHOLE story (which I promise I will give you piece by piece or post by post!), here are some pictures. 
We had SOME of this:

A LOT of this:

And very LITTLE of that

Adoption is not a decision that one can just make because is seems like a good thing to do.  Although, it is a wonderful thing to do.  There are 147 million orphans worldwide, it is something we MUST do if the Lord calls us to it.  However, during the entire process, there were many times, when I wanted to bail out!  It is a constant roller coaster ride.  And after the adoption is complete, the real challenges only begin.  We knew that this would be the case, but there was not really anything we could do to prepare ourselves for the time after.  Sure we read parenting an adopted child/special needs child books and many blogs of other families who adopted.  We asked lots of question and did a LOT of research.  But no one could tell me how Eliisa would handle the change in her environment.  No one could tell me how the sedatives would work their way out of her body.  No one could prepare me for the constant crying, screaming, head banging, biting, etc. she would have.  Especially, no one could have known that it would be an every day battle just to get her to sleep at nights. 

Was it all worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!  When we do the Lord's will, it does not always immediately "feel" like it was worth it.  I am sure Noah asked many times during the years of building the ark and being ridiculed if it would be worth it.  I am sure Moses wondered in the 40 years of wandering through the wilderness if it was worth it.  I won't say that there aren't times when I asked the Lord if He didn't make a mistake by making me Eliisa's mama.  Every day I go to bed feeling like a failure.  I don't know how to help her cope or how to let her know how much we love her and want what's best for her.  I am, however, absolutely sure that He gave us Eliisa and that He has a very special plan for her life and ours.  Every day, I am learning something knew about her and every day, the Lord is teaching me new lessons about Himself and my adoption in Him. 

I know that when Jesus died on the cross for my sins, He never once wavered at His calling to die for my sin.  Yes, He asked the Lord to find another way to save all mankind from their sins so He would not have to suffer, but He was ready and willing to pay my price without wavering.  God in His infinite wisdom also knew that after our adoption, we would still have a hard time obeying and doing His will and how much more we would hurt Him.  Yet, He did it anyway. When I stop and think about how hard it is to teach a five-year-old, who has never been taught how to obey, how to be thankful, how to be kind to others, how to be careful when there is danger, how to accept the word "no," how to share, how to act in any situation, how to make good choices, how to be patient, etc., then I have to think about myself and my life since I have been saved.  I have behaved far worse towards my heavenly Father than Eliisa will ever come close to. In the past thirty years, the Lord has been VERY patient with me.  He has continued to correct me when I have failed; He has picked me up when I got hurt or fell out of pure stubbornness to do it my own way; He has walked by my side even when I was kicking and screaming because I didn't want to go His way; He was ALWAYS there for me when I was ready to come back to Him; He was ALWAYS ready to forgive me even before I asked Him for forgiveness; and most amazingly of all He has loved me through all of the pain that I have given Him.  Best of all, He is NOT finished with me yet.  :) 

We have had some good times, but we have also had some very rough times.  Every day we can discover something new that Eliisa has learned since coming home.  Every day, we can catch a glimpse of that beautiful little girl that is hiding underneath all of that anger and crying.  Every day, we are thankful that the Lord allowed her to come into our lives.  Right now, we are struggling the most with Eliisa still having a VERY hard time going to sleep at night and most days refusing to take a nap, so by the time it is finally quiet in the house, I am emotionally and physically completely spent.  Not only does she keep herself awake, she keeps the rest of the house awake as well with all the screaming and crying.  I have tried every trick in the book that I know, but without success so far.  Unfortunately, because she has hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, our pediatrician does not recommend Melatonin due to a risk for seizures, so that trick is also a "no go."  I'd like to know what they did to put her to sleep every day for naps and night time when she was in the orphanage because I know that they would not tolerate anyone falling out of line there.  We would really appreciate your prayers for that.  I bought a hammock type chair specifically designed for autistic children that she and I can both sit in and rock.  Once I get it hung, I will try that along with a warm cup of milk at nights to help her relax before bed time and to give her some one on one mama time.  I will let you know how that goes.  :)  Over the next few days or weeks, I will fill you in on all of the happenings that Eliisa has experienced so far as well as her doctor's appointments.  Thanks for not giving up on this blog and us!!! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our Trip Home

Waiting on our Ride to the Airport
I promised I would share our homecoming story with you.  I am sorry it has taken me so long to get around to posting it!  We and Eliisa are trying to adjust at home.  It has not been an easy adjustment for her.  Eliisa is five-years-old, yet much like a baby in a great many ways.  She is also suffering from withdrawal symptoms from the medications she was on to keep her sedated while in the institution she was in.  She has extreme mood swings and goes from screaming to laughing and back to screaming within seconds.  We are having a hard time with her going to sleep for naps and at night time as well as getting her to eat when everyone else is eating.  We have not been able to make much progress with communication both verbal and nonverbal, so that's adding to her frustration.  Because she was the youngest in her group, she has learned to always defend herself, and she does not know how to receive love from her sisters.  She simply pushes them away.  She is still throwing toys, but now mostly when she is mad.  She is having a very hard time dealing with the word "no."  Yes, we are having quite a few struggles.  Struggles that could have been so easily avoided.  Should any child have to struggle like that?  No!!!!  It is hard to comprehend how it is possible that a child can suffer such great injustice in life, and yet there are so many children around the world suffering the same injustice and worse.  Would Eliisa's struggles be less severe had we been able to adopt her several years ago?  YES!!  How I wish we could have known about her then to keep her from having to go through what she has gone through.  And, yet, I know that the Lord allowed her to come into our life at exactly the right time.  Even in this time, He is molding us and teaching us so many lessons that we would not have learned otherwise.  We are learning how to be completely dependent on Him.  I am learning how much patience the Lord has with me because I am often very unloveable and disobedient, and I don't want His help, and yet He is always there for me when I am ready to come back to Him.  He is always by my side even when I am pushing Him away. 
BUT in the midst of this time of adjustment, we are also seeing some great progress as well.  Eliisa LOVES bath time.  She cannot get enough of it.  She has obviously never had a real bath as she does not know how to be afraid of the water at all.  She loves to be hosed off with the shower head.  She laughs and laughs.  I have also learned that wrapping her tight like a baby for nap and night time is the best way to get her to go to sleep without hours of struggeling.  We were told that she cannot feed herself, yet aside from us keeping her from stuffing her mouth beyond full, she has been feeding herself.  She loves music and loves it when her sisters sing to her.  She loves to dance whenever she hears music.  Eliisa has also started to learn what to do with toys, even learned to stack legos on top of each other.  She is starting to make eye contact more and more, even if it is only for a mere second.  She is learning that she doesn't have to sit in one place all day long and rock herself, but she can be free to roam around the house.  Little by little, I know she will learn to thrive in our family.  She will learn what it means to be loved and to receive love.  She will learn that it is a good thing to be held rather than fighting it.  We are blessed beyond measure that the Lord would choose us to have a part in her life and watch her blossom before our eyes. 
Now, to our coming home story.  I am so thankful that I was able to update our blog the evening before we left, because it was the last contact to home I had before leaving Eliisa's country.  I lost the internet connection I had and wasn't even able to skype with Abe and the girls one more time before leaving.  :(  To tell you the truth, I was not sure what to expect about our long airplane trip home.  I was afraid that Eliisa would continue her tantrums like she had had and scream the whole way home.  I was afraid that she would not want to sit buckled in her seat.  I was afraid what would happen when we got to immigration in the U.S. because of her name problem.  But the Lord carried us through each step.  

Waiting in the Airport in Kiev
 I felt myself carried through the whole way home.  We left our first airport promptly and without any major meltdowns.  I was able to meet another family who was on their way home with their newly adopted son.  However, the airline would not allow them to travel together as a family due to the plane being full, so the mom had to travel ahead by herself.  I know the Lord placed her there on the plane just for me.  What an encouragement it was to have her help, and also to share our stories and our love for the Lord throughout this journey with her.  Eliisa sat quietly for the whole two hour flight while we talked.  Once we got to Amsterdam, we parted ways since the mom was going to try to arrange flights so the whole family could be reunited before making the transatlantic flight.


So Beautiful!
Eliisa and I ventured through the airport to get our tickets and then waited to get through the gate.  We had to wait for a long time to get through security at our gate, but the Lord used that time to open up a window seat for us.  I was so thankful that after initally being told there were no window seats for us, that I was persistent and asked again (which is totally against my nature!).  I know the trip home would have been a LOT harder without being able to have that window seat for Eliisa.  Eliisa got quite impatient waiting on us to go through security, but finally we were able to make it through that as well.  Then we had to wait on our plane to get to the gate in a very full waiting area.  I let Eliisa walk and walk until she could not walk anymore.  She was trying to find anything and everything from the floor to put in her mouth.  I was constantly "chasing" her to keep her from doing so.  And then we were finally on our plane to our final destination in Atlanta with about a one hour delay. 

Eliisa was asleep before we were even in the air, and although she did not sleep very soundly, she slept for 6 of the 9 hours that we were on that plane!  Praise the Lord!  The rest of the time, she just sat, rocked, played with her little taggy blanket I made her, and ate until we finally landed on American soil.  Wow, what a moment!!!  :)  We ended up in a very short line for immigration, which is the first time that I have ever experienced that.  From the first officer, we were escorted to our interview room where another officer reviewed our paperwork and put that stamp that makes Eliisa an American citizen into her passport.  He was so kind!  I know the Lord put him there just for us!  And since I did not have any checked luggage, we were able to breeze right through customs and our third and final security screening, got on the train, and came up the elevator, and were welcomed by Gretchen and her wonderful son, Ari!  Abe and the girls were stuck in traffic (welcome to Atlanta!), but they had just made it to the parking garage when we made it through immigration and customs.  What a moment it was to be reunited with Abe and the girls!!!  As soon as our plane had landed in Atlanta, I could not hold back the tears.  I was fighting them back through immigration and customs just so that no one would declare me crazy, but once we were reunited as a family, I just couldn't hold them back anymore.  What an amazing journey this has been!  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us and Eliisa in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead of us! 

Since coming home, we have pretty much stayed home.  We ventured out on the first day to go to the park, but it was simply too much for Eliisa.  Yesterday, we started out the day by going to the pool.  Eliisa LOVED it, but she was constantly drinking the water.  It will take some time for her to learn to keep her mouth closed.  We just love our puddle jumpers!  It is the BEST invention of all time for our girls.  I am looking forward to many more days in the pool with my girls!!  We celebrated Independence Day as a family, and what a new meaning it had for us this year!  How thankful we are for the country we get to live in and the freedoms we have!  I have never been so happy to be home!  This week, we will celebrate Eliisa and Ellie's fifth birthday.  I will share that special day with you when I get another quiet moment!  :)