In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chapter Meerof

Before I get started on the next chapter, I have a few thoughts to share. Sometimes, like yesterday, when I press "publish post" I start wondering if I revealed or said too much. I have this urge to go back and delete the ugly parts. Had I done that yesterday, I would not have been blessed by a few messages that, at least for 24 hours now, have talked me off the ledge and have once again stirred up a new hope for Goosey to come home. So, thank you to John, Emily and Kathy who have the life experiences to give perspective in situations such as mine. And thank you to the rest of you who allow me to write and never judge. This blog has been a lifeline for me throughout this journey.

Chapter Meerof:
Meerof is a beautiful (we would guess) 2 and a 1/2 year old, with story telling eyes, a bright smile and if I had to guess, a lot of personality. Upon our first meeting, none of this was very apparent, but that didn't come as a surprise to us. We were at the care center for about 45 minutes while she was finishing up her nap. Then, when our guard was finally down, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a four year old girl, walking Meerof towards us. There was no formal introduction, we had no idea if she was told anything about us, or if she had any concept of what was going on here. Actually, I know she knew something was up, because she was in protective mode for sure. She was only dropped off by her mom at an orphanage about 3 months ago, so she is in the middle of the throws of this life tragedy and the hurt was speaking loudly in this moment. Her gaze was averted, her shoulders and her hands were up by her ears and her jaw was fixed in a tight underbite. She held very defensive pose and nothing was going to break her of that the first day. Knowing what she was going through, we didn't want to push her to crack a smile or be any other way than how she was feeling. I can't wait to attach the picture of me and Meerof on the first day. I'm like totally glowing and she looks so stern. Overall, it went pretty much how I expected it would.

The few days, held new expressions and a peek into who she really might be. About a half an hour in on day two, we got our first smile. It was none other than a Koosh ball that brought about her dreamy smile and even a little giggle. Precious!!!!!!!! Then, a little while later, she stood on my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me two little hugs. I tried to be cool, but I was shocked that she initiated this timid and calculated move. She was very protective of me and Dave and would ward off any others who were trying to gain our attention. Each day she had a toy of choice. Usually it was a ball, but a couple days it was a little tin drum. Save the child who would try to take those away from her! One of the highlights of our entire trip was on the fourth day at the care center. All the kids were eating lunch. She was one of the first to emerge and she made a running beeline straight for us. Every time we were there, she preferred to play with us rather than the other kids, which made for some good old fun play time. It was a tough balancing act those few days we got to see her. We almost didn't want to form some incredible bond even if that were possible, because we knew we would be walking away and we know she doesn't understand, "we'll be back in 6 weeks." All she knows right now, is that we stepped into her life and now we are gone. I hate that! Hopefully, these next few weeks will fly by and hopefully, she has some innate notion that we will be back to get her!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapter Goose

Jet lag seems to have the best of me in this early hour, so I thought I would attempt to bring my blog somewhat up to speed. What to say, is the big question? I guess I'll start from the beginning. I'll gloss over the actual getting to ET, with words like delays, sprinting, missed flights, more sprinting, missing luggage. I think you get the picture. Ok - that was easy. Onto the next chapter.

Chapter Goosey: The morning after we arrived we headed down to Awassa, which is about a 4 1/2 hour harrowing drive. The near misses would total about 42 going and about a 102 returning to Addis. We had an amazing driver and guide, but HOLY COW, my blood pressure is still trying to reach normal levels from that drive. Anyhooooo . . . . . . . I think I'm stalling, due to not knowing where to start with Goosey, but here I go.

We went to see the Goose that first day and I can without hesitation tell you that he is an easy baby to fall in love with. He has a smile that can melt steel. He is so interactive and loves to say "da da da da da," and when he gets excited he bobs his head up and down and up and down. However, even in the midst of the joy there was a monster growing wildly within. A big giant dose of FEAR! While Goosey has put on some much needed weight, his legs seemed utterly useless. Part of the time I was there I wanted nothing more to do than run away with him, and the other part of me, just wanted to simply run. How is someone supposed to handle this? Do we turn our backs on this baby we love and say, I'm not sure I can handle you? Or do we trust that God didn't give us Goosey for all these months and move forward, even with the uncertainty? I can safely say that I will never be awarded a Mother Theresa Award. I'm scared to death of disease, difficult health situations, not to mention the common cold. I'm only compassionate from afar in those situations, but I'm not eager to enter a life that could be consumed with doctors appointments and the like. So, I'd go back to the hotel and just cry. Cry from fear, cry from guilt of these terrible thoughts of giving up on the Goose, cry from the months of hardship the whole process has brought, cry from wondering where God is in Goosey's situation. You name it, I was crying about it. This isn't how it was supposed to look. But the story continues.

The first couple of times we went to see Goose, we were accompanied by the orphanage director. If we would at all try to stretch his legs or do anything to make him work, he would cry and they would take him away from us. It was hard to figure anything out with her there. On the third visit, we had a little time alone with him. So, we immediately went to work. I held Goosey's trunk, while Dave braced his legs on the ground. Low and behold, I slowly let go, and Goosey, held onto Dave's hair for support, and stood on his legs. I'm 100% sure, that it was the first time, he had ever really tried to use his legs. He wouldn't straighten up, but he did use his legs! Then Dave did a few more PT maneuvers on the Goose in between the manager checking in with us. After just a couple hours of trying to challenge the Goose, he seemed to really respond. Has this diminished my fear of something being terribly wrong with him? Of course, not. If you know me, then you know how I am about stuff like this. Has it diminished Dave's fear of something terribly wrong with him. Of course. Dave is convinced that it is just the effects of orphanage living. Goose has never been challenged to use his legs. He goes from the crib to someone's arms, to the bumbo we brought him in September, back to the crib. I'm not sure he knew he had legs before last week. I can say, it is a real possibility that orphanage living is to blame for his lack of leg mobility and I can say that he could be running and jumping, etc. . . in months after he gets home, but I also think there could be other reasons . . . hence the fear.

All of this could be a mute point, though, because Mowa still has not signed his paperwork. It is completed, his case has been fully investigated, it has been signed off by the person who has held it up for months, and now it has been sitting on the desk of the last person who needs to sign it. She doesn't even need to comb through the paperwork - all she needs to do is put her initials on it. Two letters, is what would decide if Goosey grew up in that orphanage and if he would grow up here. Although, who knows how long that orphanage can stay open. While we were there, we heard that Mowa threatened to close it down, because it couldn't pay the government. How screwed up is that? The government won't allow the orphanages to make money by allowing adoptions, but wants to close them down when they can't pay the government. There is no doubt in my mind that corruption is running deep in this. We stopped by the Mowa office there to try and meet up with the elusive non-signer. In the parking lot was a shiny new "funded by Unicef," car. To be honest, we didn't actually see it, but a representative from our agency was there at the same time and asked if we saw it. He actually did get to visit with one of the Mowa representatives, who was about 24, no kids, not married, never had heard of adoption before taking this post and was very defensive. When he asked if there is anything he could do to help them, she basically said, you can stop adopting our kids out of ET and set up sponsorships instead. That is totally fine. I get that. What I don't get, is why they will let hundreds of babies suffer in the meantime, while they don't have a sponsorship program set up. Blah, blah, blah, - I could go on forever. The point being, we have no idea if they will ever sign his paperwork.

I guess I should wrap this up, since it is turning into more of a book than a post. What I can say about the Goose, is that he is nothing short of one of the most amazing babies I've ever met. I'm scared to death to bring him home and I'm scared to death to leave him there. God only knows what is best for him, for me, for Spence, for Leah, for Meerof for Dave, etc. . . . In the early morning hours in Awassa, with pleas to God and streams of tears, God did not answer me with a nudge to bail quite yet, although I wanted to. What He kept impressing on me was "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." So, we continue to wait it out for now with a lot of prayer and a little bit of fear and trembling.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

T minus 1 day

T-minus one day until we lift off. It has felt like a lifetime that I have waited to meet N, but it feels like M's adoption is reaching a mach 3 pace. If my dreams are any indication of my anxiety level, then I would say my anxiety level is moderately high to very high. Recently, I've had a dream that I was all of the sudden driving through a tornado, but we found cover in an undercover, smoke fillled, Chinese restaurant. I had a dream that I was part of a synchronized swim team and I was the only one who didn't know the routine we were performing to Cotton Eyed Joe. Then last night I had one of those dreams where we were having to run through the airport, but when I would walk, I wouldn't go anywhere. If I had to name three things I am anxious about, I would say, leaving Spence and Leah, something going terribly wrong (like contracting Dengue Fever or getting in a car accident), and the whole situation with Negusu.

On Wednesday, we heard that M's birth mom did show up for her court date, and everything went as planned. While that is nothing to celebrate, it did mean that everything is still a go for M. Simultaneously, after 2 months of hearing NOT A PEEP about the southern region, where Goosey is, there was finally a whisper. Whispers that something may, in fact, be stirring. I had put my heart in a good place. I was prepared to see the Goose and was pretty convinced that these would likely be the only 3 days that we ever see the handsome little fellow, but now there is that ray of hope again and I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm sort of convincing myself that we have heard all of this before and that nothing will come of it, but I also have felt pretty sure that God was going to do something pretty incredible while we were there. I guess my hopes are deniably up, but I am trying to keep them in check for the sake of not falling apart while we are there AND because there will only be one a matter of hours between saying goodbye to Goose and Hello to M. I am kinda hoping that the whole trip will be so much to consume, so chaotic and so tiring that we won't even really have the chance to process anything until we get home. I literally can't imagine having four kids, but I REALLY literally can't imagine not bringing Negusu home.

I keep thinking that I should maybe start getting anxious about meeting M, too. If I know myself, like I think I do, I will be SO nervous when the time comes, but for now I am not. It has something to do with the fact that this is not the path we started on, to adopt a child slightly younger than Leah, but it is without a doubt who God is grafting into our family. So whether or not our first meeting (and life thereafter) goes well, we know that God is constructing this plan. That is why we will be adding an American name to her name that means, "God's Gift." Plus, there are a couple of indications that point to her belonging in our family. It has something to do with a report saying that she is "very active in her speech" and an exact facial expression that Leah has. Oh my lands! I can't wait to meet her!

Well, in true Holly fashion, I am not packed, the house is only partially clean, we have a full schedule today, complete with watching the Bronco game, and my list of to do's is longer than there are hours in the day, so I best be getting going. At least I can cross one thing off my list, now that I have written my last blog before take off.

Thank you all for the thousands of prayers you have prayed for Goosey, for the prayers that you have prayed for us, for the prayers for M and thank you all for the amazing support you have given us. We have filled our tubs completely with formula and baby food all with help from ya'll. We have been lifted so many times from unexpected donations of money and formula for Goosey's orphanage. We have also been encouraged by all of you who have read our blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to walk this journey with us!