Friday, October 20, 2017

Aren't You Scared


He had just finished reading the litany of diagnoses. Mental delay, severe epilepsy, severe speech delay, hyperactivity.  He had just finished reading about her abandonment. He had just finished making it clear for the court record that no one, not one person, had visited or called or made contact with her since she had been left at the hospital. No one.

It was grim.

Aren't You Scared?

He motioned for Rob to stand up and answer the question.

Yes. I thought as I looked at the judge. Absolutely.  I am terrified.  I am not naïve. I've done this before. I know what is coming.  I've spent hours and days and weeks and months in the trenches with my other two boys.

Rob stood and cleared his throat.  He then, in words that were beautiful and eloquent, shared with the judge about meeting Aaron for the first time. He was a severely disabled boy in a Level 4 mental institute who couldn't talk, barely walked, couldn't feed himself, couldn't take care of himself.  He had been put away. But now. Now Aaron can run. He never stops talking. He feeds himself. He can do so many things for himself. He is in school and can read and write and is so very smart. We know that Mary has great potential.  We know we can help her just like we have helped our other boys.

It was perfect and right and in every way the truth.

But it doesn't mean we aren't scared.

We are so not naïve.

We have seen every one of her diagnoses. They are not incorrect. 

She was abandoned at a time in her life when she needed her Mama the most. She went from hospital to an orphanage. Just last May she was transferred to a Level 3 special needs orphanage. Right after transfer she was taken to a "camp" where she spent the summer months. She knows starvation, she knows abandonment, she knows that to survive you have to fight. She knows that grownups can hurt her. She knows.

Aren't You Scared.

Yes.

We are.

But she needs us. She needs family. She needs advocates. She needs a home. She needs love.  She needs a Mama and a Papa who are committed to stay the course with her.  She needs the Lord.  And He is the One who called us to cross the ocean for her.

We are leaving on Monday night and I have already packed the bags.

Our bags are packed.

I travel all the time and I never pack until right before I leave but not this time.

We're ready.

We're ready to bring home a little girl who has had to learn to fight to survive.



We are bringing home a little girl who shuts down verbally when she is upset.
 

We are bringing home a little girl who has seizures that are dangerous and unpredictable.


We are bringing home a little girl who is adorable and who has already wrapped us around her little finger.


We are scared.

I won't lie.

We know that in the coming months we are going to go deep into the trenches. We know that we will spend thousands of hours in hospitals and doctor's offices. We know she is developmentally and emotionally delayed. We know that we are bringing home a hurting little girl on every level.

But we know the One who called us.

And we are counting the hours to go get our little one and bring her home.






Sunday, October 15, 2017

Missing our Girl and Grieving

We've been wandering around the last few days a bit lost.

Our little one is officially ours but still on the other side of the ocean.

Legally in her country you have to wait 10 days after court before you can start the paperchase to get her out. So we are home and again counting the days.


But that's not the only reason we are feeling lost.

Last Saturday night, while we were flying across the ocean, our faithful friend breathed her last. She was eleven years old and her time had come but it is hard. It is so so hard.


I'm lost without her.

She loved our family and faithfully cared for each one of us. I've spent the last many years with her keeping me company while I worked in my office.  Rob called her our rug on the floor because she would plod down right in our paths.  She wanted to make sure she was in the middle of whatever we were doing.



She always always hung out with the little boys outside while they played.


She LOVED to go on walks with Elijah but was too silly to go with him because she kept running in the road so every single day when he headed out for his mile long walks... he would always have to turn around and bring her back and put her in the house.

She LOVED Ben. She just loved him.  As soon as he was home she was up against him and nuzzling him.

And even though she lived here - she adopted my dad as her own. He came over every day to care for her and feed her. He lost his dog a number of years ago and caring for Summer was one of his life's pleasures.

She was our dog and we loved her and there is a huge hole in our family now that she is gone.




Like I said... we are wandering around and feeling a bit lost right now.

Missing our little one and grieving our faithful friend.






Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Make Me Smile

Have you ever looked at someone and said to yourself, "That has got to be the dullest job on Earth. If I had to do that, my heart would stop beating out of sheer boredom. How does he get through the day without banging his head against his desk?"

This afternoon, we are praising God for people like that. For there are times when boring is better than exciting. Take adoption court, for example. You don't want a lot of excitement there. Far better if no one objects to anything, and the judge just reads out all the reasons why this adoption is in the best interests of the child-- over, and over, and over again.

How you own your home, have a steady job and a good income. How you have adopted from this country twice before, with positive outcomes for the children. How this child was abandoned by her parents, and has never seen them since. How no one from this country has shown any interest in this child. How you own your home, have a steady job and a good income. How you are well prepared to meet the special needs of this child. Did I mention that you own your home, have a steady job and a good income?

Why yes, your honor, I think you did mention that. Sometime when you were reading our entire dossier into the court record-- all 200-plus pages of it! At least you had the grace to read quickly. Our poor translator was often just spitting out the page number when you moved on, and that was just fine.

Yes, boring was just fine today. For when the reading was done, your honor also did a bit of writing. What came out of that Cyrillic word processor was a court decree that gave us our new daughter: Mary Alexandra Nalle!



Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above ye heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Camel for Hire?

WIN ONE FOR ME!!

I crammed all of our clothes PLUS a whole ton of handmade baby gifts for the missionaries to give away, a pile of new toy cars for the little ones in Mary's group, 2 beautiful handmade blankets to give away, a massive amount of gently used clothes to give away, gifts for our judge (after he says YES) and gifts for the missionary's kids in TWO suitcases under the 50 lb weight limit!! 


Woo hoo..


Bag number one comes in at a whopping 49 1/2 lbs and bag number two at a measly 48 lbs.


And just in case those 2 mammoth bags get lost, I put all of our court clothes in their own bag. I stuffed our WINTER COATS in there too because rumor has it is it COLD over there!! 



Rounding out our pile of stuff is my nifty backpack purse and our computer bag which will house both our computers, a couple of books we will probably never ever open and a ton of snack food that we know we will eat.


Thank the Lord my husband is coming!!


Otherwise I would need to hire a camel.


We are only going to be gone for 6 days!!


We can't wait!!


We get to see this precious treasure!



Little girl... Mama and Papa are coming soon!!

Court is on Tuesday!!







Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Lord is Going Before Us



A week ago we wondered... waited... prayed... despair weighing down our hearts...

Hague issues... corrupt ministry officials... lost interpols... an agency in uproar... missed court... and a little girl waiting for her Mama.

The darkness was swirling around us. The mountains seemed so high and we felt so small.

And then the mountains began caving in around us.  We stared in awe and wonder. In just a matter of hours we watched as one section after another started crashing down.

Crashing mountains are awesome to behold!

The thundering crashes and billowing dust had us gasping for breath. We continued to wait and wonder and pray but despair was no longer weighing down our hearts.

As the dust settled, the skies started clearing on Friday and today... today...

We have committee approval!

We have a new court date.

We have plane tickets.

We have a new Hague agency to oversee our process.

We are making schedules.  We are arranging babysitting. We are mentally packing our suitcases.

WE ARE LEAVING ON SATURDAY!!!

Little one... Mama and Papa are coming!!



It's just a short trip.

We fly over and back in a matter of days.

We get to see our little one for only a few visits. We will stand in court and petition the judge to be her Mama and Papa.  After court we will fly home and wait for 10 days.

Of course we have to pass court.

And we still need a signature on our approval papers.

But we just saw some mighty huge mountains crash down around us, so we know that the Lord is going before us.

And there is great peace in that knowledge.

Stay tuned.... soon we are going to be introducing the newest member of the Nalle family!











Sunday, October 1, 2017

Clearing Skies

The dust is settling.

On Thursday we looked around at the mess and wondered when we would ever get to cross the ocean again.

On Friday we started seeing a few clear skies.

Clear skies are good.



We will take every one we can get.

The families who were frantically waiting for their approvals to be signed so they could have court next week breathed a huge sigh of relief on Friday when an official was approved to sign their papers.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief right along with them.

If their approvals were signed then once we receive approval, ours will be signed too.

That was a HUGE answer to prayer.



Sunlight is shining through the dust clouds.

Hope is beginning to fill our hearts as we see those rays bursting through.

With clear skies appearing we can now start anticipating the walk to her orphanage.



When the skies are clear and the sun is shining, the walk to her orphanage is quite beautiful.

We are waiting on approval from the committee.

We are praying HARD that they will review our dossier tomorrow.

If they do and it is approved then we just need an approval signature and a new court date.



So on this Sunday we are praying.

For more clearing skies.

For dossiers to be reviewed. For approvals to be signed. For a kind judge to give us a court date as soon as possible.

We want to see the flowers again.

But more importantly... we want to see our favorite little girl in the whole wide world!!




Mary!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mama Didn't Come


They dressed her all up nice and pretty for Mama.

The message that we were not able to make it to court didn't filter down to the caretakers so they washed her and fixed her hair and put her in a sweet little dress.

She was all fixed up and ready to go to court with her Mama and Papa.

Oh my goodness I just can't stand it!

BREAK. MY. HEART

 She was waiting for Mama.

Mama didn't come.

Our facilitator, who stood in court for us, went to visit her with gifts she bought "from us."

And they couldn't even take a picture for Mama to see because our facilitator's phone battery had died. She spent the day on the phone getting our Interpol paperwork redone because our name was misspelled on it.





Yesterday, things kind of exploded across the ocean.  I can't share everything but I can say this... the person who has been wrecking havoc on international adoptions has had the tables turned on him.  He is being de-throned. This is good in the long term. This is a HUGE answer to prayer! This is what all of us have been hoping for.

But in the short term, his removal leaves a hole that has not been filled. There are other holes that are empty too as a result of this man's work. Right now the office that processes adoptions is in chaos and we are caught up in that story.

For us to move forward, our dossier has to be reviewed and approved by a committee that he headed. Then our dossier needs to be signed. Up until yesterday, he was the one who signed the approvals.  When he wanted to. At his leisure.

There isn't a head of the committee anymore. At this point no one has been appointed to replace him.

We are in limbo.

So are a whole lot of other families. Some are across the ocean with approvals and court dates scheduled for next week, but no signatures because he was taking his time about signing them. They can't have court without approvals.

We are hoping and praying that in the next few days things will begin to sort themselves out.

We are first of all praying that someone will be given the authority to sign the approvals of the families who have court next week.

We are praying that the committee will continue to meet and approve dossiers and that our dossier will be part of the next meeting.

We are praying that the person put in charge of this committee will not have the same sentiments that his predecessor had.

We are grateful that the powers that be over there did not turn a deaf ear to the cries of the families who have been caught in the corruption and deceit over the last nine months. There are some really good ladies who lost their jobs over all of this and I am praying hard for them that they are reinstated. I care about these ladies because they helped process both Aaron and John's adoptions for us and I missed them a month ago when we were there.   

We are so grateful to the Lord that the mountains are being brought to dust.

We are currently caught in that dust storm and right now the scenery isn't pretty.

It's making it even harder to breath than normal and is causing a lot of headache.

But we have a silver lining.

Tomorrow a Mama is crossing the ocean to accept the referral for her little guy.



He's my silver lining.

He's in Mary's group.

We met him.

We were even able to take a few pictures and send them to his Mama.

He's a teeny tiny little guy who had lost so much weight at camp that his britches fell down every time he walked.  He came running into our room one time with tears pouring down his face and came over to me for comfort. I wanted to pull him into my arms and whisper in his ear that he had a Mama.

He's a little wisp and next Wednesday he's going to meet his Mama! 

I'm so excited for him.

I'm grateful too because we sent Mary a cute little Baby Einstein octopus that plays music and has buttons she can push that make sounds. That's her love language!! She loves buttons and she loves music!! We also sent her pictures. We can't be there but we can at least send bits of love to her from afar.

Here's the thing...

The Boyers are not fully funded.

I want to thank them for loving on our little one.

They have been offered a $1,000 matching grant.

Will you help me match this for them???

As a THANK YOU!!
PLEASE!!

If you are reading this and have 5, 10, 20 OR MORE to spare... will you donate so we can match their grant????

It would bless them so much!!

THANK YOU!



I so am hoping that Cindy's battery doesn't run out so we can get some new pictures of our little one!

P.S. The Boyer's grant account needs to read $2,512.25 for their matching grant to be met.



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Feeling Wrecked


We didn't buy tickets.

Our bags are only half packed.

We aren't rushing out the door.

We won't see our little one this week.

Court will happen without us.

The mountains we hoped would move yesterday refused to budge on our behalf.

We are home.

Feeling a bit wrecked.

Adoption is hard. You step off a cliff in faith and find yourselves tossed to and fro and around and around to the point where some days you don't know whether you are coming or going.

The very hardest part is how utterly helpless you are most of the time. Filling out the paperwork and gathering the money is about the only part you truly play. After that you are forced to surrender everything into the hands of government workers, social workers, postal workers, facilitators, judges, juries, directors, drivers, more social workers and more government workers.

We've had to surrender a lot this time around.  The process in Mary's country is much harder to predict. After having gone through this twice you would think we would have a handle on all of it, but we are as baffled as if we had never done this before.

We are feeling wrecked this morning.

We can't even express how hard it feels to not get to see our little one this week. We long to hear her voice. We miss her funny expressions and the way she wags her little finger at us. We want to hold her when she falls and carry her in our arms. She's ours. Not yet by order of the court but she is deeply entrenched in our hearts.



It's a difficult Tuesday morning.

It's okay. It comes with the territory. Cliff jumping wrecks you some days.

Our facilitator will stand in our place in court on Thursday. She will explain the whys of our absence.  We will then wait and pray that next Monday mountains will budge. We need approval from a committee that holds our dossier in their hands. We need signatures. We need a new court date.

Today we will rest. Regroup. Cry a bit. Grieve.


Tomorrow we will go back to making lists and plans. Tomorrow we will anticipate schedules and count days. Tomorrow we will pray and then pray some more.

And through it all we will trust in the One who called us on this cliff jumping adventure!






Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lost Papers and Lost Certificates


A girl and her Papa....

I laugh when I see this picture!

Playing on the iPad was so exciting that her little fingers just pushed and pushed and pushed every single button over and over and as fast as she could. Papa had to teach her to push it one time. One time. It took a while, but she soon learned.



If you are praying alongside us for Mary just keep right on praying!!  We still don't have plane tickets and our court is scheduled for Thursday.

It seems hopeless.

But on Friday God moved part of the mountain.

One of the many issues is that an important paper we needed for court was lost by one of the governmental agencies over there. Ours weren't the only ones lost so several families have been biting nails over here and waiting and waiting and waiting. On Friday morning, our spitfire of a facilitator and two other facilitators stormed into an office on our behalf looking for those lost papers.

I was sent a message that morning to pray and so pray we did. We asked some of our fellow prayer warriors to pray and pray they did.

Those women pushed on the mountain and it moved.

Those papers are now where they are supposed to be.

It's not over.

We need the mountain to topple into the sea on Monday.

The chances of that happening are slim.

But God moved part of the mountain on Friday and we KNOW He can bring it to dust in one breath.

So we are praying hard and asking you to please pray hard.

We want to be frantically calling for plane tickets on Monday afternoon!  We want to see our little one this next week. We want to get through court so we can come home and count the hours until we can go back and get her. Our hearts are longing with every breath for this to happen this week.

Either way we know that in the end - when the dust has settled - we will see God's handiwork in all the mess. And in that we take comfort.

We pray. We wait. We long. We trust.


On Friday, while the mountain was being shifted, we learned some rather horrifying news on a different front....

On the U.S. side of the adoption, as part of the U.S. requirements for immigration, your homestudy has to be certified by a Hague agency.

We paid a lot of money for our Hague certification.

We were certified and qualified by immigration to adopt. We hold that approval in our hands.

The agency we hired... and the agency that about 30-40 other families who are part of our Reece's Rainbow family hired  - lost their certification as a Hague agency.

This doesn't affect our ability to have court for Mary but it does affect our ability to get her out of the country.

Our homestudy needs to be certified in order for us to get through immigration.

Since our agency lost their certification... we lost our certification.

Unless there is a way for us to be grandfathered in (and that is very doubtful) - we have to hire another agency to certify us.

It's several thousand dollars worth of headache plus a lot of paperwork that just makes me want to cry.

But our iPad loving girlie is worth it.


So we are working hard at trying to figure out what we need to do to redo our certification.

And we are again asking for prayers for not only us but the other families who are in the same situation. Many of the families are not even close to being funded and adding this new cost on is just about drowning them.  It was hard news on Friday. A lot of tears and a lot of discussions. Pray for wisdom and clarity as we all move forward with this news!!

THANK YOU!!



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trying Not to Cry



We still don't have plane tickets.

It is very doubtful whether we will make it to court next week apart from an act of God.

The obstacles and barriers seem so big right now and our little one seems so very far away.


 

We at least understand to some degree why we can't just hop on a plane and go back.

Little girl has no idea how hard we are praying and much we are longing to hold her in our arms again.

All she knows is that we were there and we are now gone.

All she feels is the abandonment and loss that is part of being an orphan.

I am trying not to cry.

There are so many parts to this story that we are not free to share on this blog, but it all boils down to us being here and little one being over there.

We are wading through our days waiting and PRAYING and hoping that God will move some mighty big mountains that will allow us to keep our court date next Thursday. Those mountains are mighty big. Way too big for man to move. No matter what - we will trust in Him. But we sure would like them moved.

Please keep praying with us.

And keep praying for the other families who are also waiting and praying and hoping because we are most certainly not alone.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Obstacles and Barriers



Two weeks ago we said goodbye to our little girl with promises that we would be back.



Two weeks ago we looked back and saw her little arm waving goodbye as we walked down the long path towards the gate.


Two weeks ago we walked out of the gate holding back tears and breathing promises... we would be back. We would be back.



We don't have plane tickets.

We have a tentative court date set on September 28th, but at this point we have no idea if we will be able to keep that date.

Several pieces need to fall into place in order for us to purchase our tickets. Right now those pieces are scattered across the floor and we are looking at them and biting nails and praying hard.

The streamlined adoption process... okay... not really streamlined because NOTHING in Mary's country is ever ever streamlined... but the relatively streamlined process over there has been upended.




We don't know exactly when we will see those gates again or our precious treasure inside them.

There are powers that be over there who have entered into the process who are doing everything they can to upend the process.

They don't understand adoption. They especially don't understand special needs adoption.

Why would we adopt sick children?

Do we sell them for body parts?

Do we gain financially from adopting them?

Why??

What is in it for us?


Why in the world we would adopt them they ask?

They are making it harder over there. These new powers that be.

They are adding on rules and requirements. What used to be a rather bumpy road has now become an obstacle course.

So many obstacles are being dropped onto the course right now that it's hard at times to even see the course.

We can't purchase plane tickets even though our court date is less than two weeks away.

We are waiting and praying and biting nails and trying to make decisions and trusting the Lord that He holds our little one in His loving arms.

We have great facilitators who are working overtime trying to work through all the new rules and regulations that are being dropped on them by the day. 

We have little control but we serve a Great God.

We know He's set us on this course.

He has provided all that we need. This past week we received donations that mean we are now fully funded for this adoption.

That brings us great peace as we wait.

We are not the only family waiting and praying and biting nails. There is comfort in numbers and each time someone gets over a new obstacle the rest of us cheer them on.

There is also comfort in knowing that surrounding us and the other families are mighty prayer warriors.  We need prayer warriors. We need the obstacles to be removed. We need the new powers that be to be toppled from their thrones. We need the bumpy roads back and not the crazy, ever changing obstacle course. We need prayer coverage in a big way and so I am asking - begging you to pray.

I have refrained from sharing about the obstacles until now. When we were in country we were quite shocked at the changes and the barriers.  We watched as our facilitator worked tirelessly to get us through them. The amount of new paperwork required was unbelievable. Just getting our court date was a miracle. Knowing that we may not get to keep it makes us sick.  I have been quiet but as I look around and see so many families struggling through the barriers, I knew I needed to say something. We can't carry the burden alone. We need prayer support.

I cannot share any more than I have shared.

I can ask you to pray.

Pray that our pieces will fall into place.

Pray for the many many families who are in process alongside us that their pieces would also fall into place.

Pray that God would change hearts.

Pray that thrones would tumble.

Pray.

And pray some more.


Our little one needs us.

Friday, September 8, 2017

I Miss Her


How could one little girl capture our hearts so fast?


How can the empty spot at our table seem so terribly empty right now?


We only had just a few short visits yet she stole our hearts.


She completely stole our hearts.



Soon baby girl.

Soon.


.... and no... I did not give her the make-up. She had it when we came and held on to it with the grip of death...

For those who have asked - Mary is six years old and is in a 6-7 size range.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

If You Leave Me Now

As all the world knows by now, the internet's a great place to find recipes. Who hasn't gone to the web to search for a fresh new casserole, or tips on grilling chicken?

Today's blog features a recipe the world seems to have learned without the internet. Here's how to break a little girl's heart in five easy steps:

1. Let her live with her mother until she gets sick. Then have her mother abandon her.

2. Send her to live in an orphanage full of strangers. Give her nothing to call her own, not even one set of clothes. Make her share everything, so that she won't want to share anything. Train her to see all other children as rivals, not friends.

3. Give her false hope by bringing in a new set of parents.

4. Rip those new parents away from her by making them wait forever for a court hearing. A month is good, longer is better.

5. Bring the parents back. Then rip them away again by making them wait ten more days before they can even start the paperwork to take her home.

We left Mary around noon yesterday, on our way back home to wait for court. It broke our hearts to do it. She is too young to understand why we left, and too stubborn to forgive. We have no doubt that she will punish us when we return for court-- probably severely. It may take days to gain back the trust we lost by abandoning her.

Trouble is, we won't have days. After court comes a mandatory ten-day waiting period, because... Who knows why? The process has become so unpredictable that we don't dare wait out the ten days in country, for fear it will become three weeks. Much as we hate to, we're planning to fly home again after court-- which means abandoning her yet again. Poor child. If only we could wish the next six weeks away, for her sake and ours.






Friday, September 1, 2017

Baby, What a Big Surprise









It's Friday morning, and we're sitting in our hotel trying to sort through what's happened this week. It all started on Monday morning, when we walked into the government office that handles adoptions here. This is where we would see Mary's file for the first time, and request a referral to meet her.

The first thing we learned was that Mary wasn't where we thought she was. We hoped and believed she was still at her baby house; but alas, she has already been transferred. Her new home is a special needs institute for boys and girls aged 4 - 18. Some are only mildly disabled, others profoundly so. Most of them spent the summer at "camp"-- a nice word for a not-so-nice place where the children go so the institute staff can have a holiday. Mary and some other little ones were to be summoned back from camp a few days early, so we could meet her. The rest of the children would come back for the first day of school, September 1st.

The next thing we learned set our hearts spinning. While sifting through the foreign conversation in the office, we heard the dreaded word "brat"-- brother. Unknown to anyone before now, Mary had a brother-- which meant that we might lose her. If the brother was available for adoption, then we might have two choices: take both, or take neither. They would not split up brother and sister for foreigners, even if the siblings had never met.

The next while was a bit tense, to say the least. Our lawyer hustled us out of the office so that the officer could investigate the brother's situation. Our facilitation team also investigated, calling its contacts in Mary's region. We had minutes to decide what we would do if the brother was available. How could we take both, when we didn't have a bedroom for a boy?

Imagine our relief when we got the news: the brother had already been adopted. They are happy to split siblings for natives, just not for foreigners. We went back into the meeting thinking, "Problem solved"-- only to learn that Mary had another brother!

The good news was that this second brother didn't seem to be "in the system," which meant that he probably wasn't available for adoption. Our facilitators seemed satisfied with this; but it was cold comfort to us. We left our appointment not knowing for sure if we would ever meet Mary.

We spent the next 28 hours in a fog of the unknown. It was a time of praying and wondering. We had no news until Tuesday afternoon, when we went back to pick up the referral.

It was then that we heard, through unofficial office gossip, that the second brother had not been found in the system. We would hear no more until we reached the institute; for only the director there had Mary's full file. The files in the capital hold only bits and pieces, many of them wrong. It is a sad, broken system, and we were feeling its brokenness as we left with Mary's referral.

We headed out to region early Wednesday morning. A two-hour drive brought us to the director's office, where we finally got the straight dope. Mary's brothers were both younger than she, and came from a different father. The younger was adopted, and the older was with his father. So that issue was finally put to rest, 48 hours after we learned of it. It was the biggest relief of the day.

We also learned why Mary was abandoned, we think: because she has epilepsy. The poor child lived with her mother almost four years, until she got sick enough to need a hospital. It seems that her mother dropped her off there when she started having seizures, and never came back. The mother lost her parental rights, and Mary became a ward of the state. She went from the hospital to the baby house, where she spent about two years. Then it was off to the institute this past May.


The actual meetings always come as a surprise to us foreigners. We were on our way to a pre-school room when we came across a caretaker in a hall, overshadowing a tiny little girl. It took a second to recognize her as Mary; for she was much more haggard than the girl in her pictures.

She was also terrified, of course. It took most of her strength to climb the stairs to the pre-school room, where we all sat while our facilitator read through her file. She was playing with a puzzle when we saw the first seizure.


It's the sort of thing that's hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. Mary suffers from a fairly rare type of seizure called "atonic"-- without muscle tone. One second, she's as alert as can be. The next, she flops down like a rag doll-- as if someone cut a wire in her brain. Two to five seconds later, she goes right back to what she was doing before-- as if she has no idea anything happened.

This is a long way from what we were expecting, to say the least. We'd been told that Mary's epilepsy was mild, and caused her few problems. Yet in the first hour we spent with her, she had at least ten drop attacks. We also saw times when her eyes fluttered, but she didn't drop. We think these little episodes are probably mini-seizures. Plus her hands are shaky, although this may be a side effect of her medication.


The biggest danger of drop attacks isn't the seizures themselves, but the falling. Mary smacked her head on the table once in that first meeting, even though the caretaker was holding her. She had another drop attack on the way out, right at the top of the stairs. If the caretaker hadn't been holding her hand, then she surely would have fallen down the whole flight.

What we're wondering now is, how in the world are we going to keep this little girl safe? The seizures come on too fast for her caretakers to react, even if they're being careful. Rob's spent the last few visits following her around with his arms corralled around her. Lest you think that's over-protective, he's already saved her from falling many times. She's safe on a couch, provided she's sitting back. She's only safe at a table if she's strapped to her chair-- up high, so that her head can't fall forward. It's all rather scary, and we are a bit overwhelmed!

The first step is obvious: The child needs a helmet or headband to save her poor head from hematoma and concussion. The next step is to find her a good doctor. An EEG will give us a better idea what we're dealing with. She needs off her medication, which obviously isn't working, and on some better ones. From what we read, though, atonic seizures don't always respond to medication; and even if they do, it takes time and trial to find the right ones. People also recommend the ketogenic diet, which sounds dreadful. "Welcome home, little girl, here's a list of all the things you can't eat: anything sweet, and anything fun."


Then there are the behaviors. Mary is an active child who is tired of being restrained. She seems to see us as her ticket to freedom, her chance to break all the rules. We have little authority over her; for we aren't her parents yet, and aren't on our home turf. The caretakers are nice, but we're still  paranoid about upsetting them. Beyond that, Mary's way behind developmentally. Her calendar age may be six, but her developmental age is somewhere between two and three.

And yet... what a darling. People used to call epilepsy the "sacred disease," probably because they associated it with visions. We know it's more scourge than sacred; but even so, there's something special about it. It's a whole new feeling, having a child flop down in one's arms like that. There's nothing we wouldn't do to help this helpless little girl.

Needless to say, it's been an exhausting week. We are emotionally drained and physically worn down. We plan to stay and visit for a few days, and then head home Sunday or Monday to wait for court.

Alas, the wait may be far longer than we like; for adoptions are getting harder over here. Certain government figures seem to care more about national pride than they do about children's lives. Please pray that the Lord will tear down all the obstacles they throw up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hold Me Jesus

(Rob writing)

We've all seen public service announcements about risky behaviors, from opening suspicious emails to texting while driving. As a responsible citizen, I feel I must warn the world against a new danger I've discovered: thinking in airports. Based on our experience of the last 48 hours, Julia and I estimate that simply walking into an airport lowers one's IQ by at least 30 points. Factor in the jet lag from an international flight, and the number doubles. The mere act of boarding an airplane can turn geniuses into dullards, and dullards like us into imbeciles. We have no doubt that pending scientific experiments will confirm these numbers. Until they do, be advised: Friends don't let friends make life-changing decisions in airports!

Dull as my brain was in those airports, it was still sharp enough to notice another danger. I've read enough history to know that experiments in communism usually come to a bad end. But I've also seen the dangers of excessive capitalism; and the airlines are a good example. Their strain to promote first-class travel goes a bit far, to say the least.

In the airport: "Travelers from our gold class, silver class, platinum class, and sapphire class may board to my right at their earliest convenience. All others, line up at the stock gate to my left on your way to the cattle pen. The fact that you paid $1500 for your ticket doesn't matter, only that you paid less than these fine folks."

On the airplane: "Travelers who hold emerald cards may use their quick menu (TM) to order service the instant they board. All others, wait for our flight attendants to fork some hay into your trough. By the by, emerald card holders, we're sorry you have to endure the rabble passing through your mansion on the way to their slum. Just know that it will make them envy you all the more, which you probably want; and that it will encourage them to spend more in the future, which we definitely want."

I suppose I shouldn't complain, though. As Julia never ceases to remind me, it's my fault we're going through all this again. It's the pictures that do it. They show you pictures of all these beautiful kids, and tell you the kind of lives they're doomed to lead if no one helps them. The thought of being someone's last chance to escape that kind of life... That's what moves me to tears. It's well worth a few rough days at the airport.

Hopefully, it's also worth the anxiety we're going through today. We ran into some possible problems yesterday, and we're waiting to see if they can be resolved. Nothing we can share right now. You can prepare all you want, but you can never prepare for everything that might happen when you walk into one of these government offices.

Please pray that something good will happen today.

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

--from Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins