Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is Kwashiokore?...

There are some basic facts- signs and symptoms:
Read this quick fact page from University of Maryland.  Click here.

Wikipedia has similiar response: Click here.

One of the last things written- is what begins to put it in perspective: "When Kwashiorkor does occur in the U.S., it is usually a sign of child abuse and severe neglect."   In our country- In a nation of fortified cereals, enriched grains, and even vitamin rich water- it would have to be a difficul purposeful task to be as malnourished as to develop what is called full blown Kwashiokore.  In countries where there aren't infrastructure, sufficient food supply, clean water, or support- parents will walk for hours, days, with or without shoes, in horrendous heat and cold conditions to find food and treatment for their children... often carrying their kids the entire trip.  The dedication and humbleness of such an act --brings me to my knees.

Oddly- months before I received Munchkin's referral information- I was moved- riveted and about this odd sounding malnourishment disease. It was written about rampantly by a number of groups doing missionary and medical work in Haiti. Kwashiokore. I didn't even know how to pronounce it. I had only heard it in terms of Haiti- never Ethiopia. Never mentioned on my agency forum. I -I didn't know it was a possibility... a possibility... for my babe.

Tara (one of Haiti blog writers) started raising money as she trained for a marathon. Her goal was to raise $2600 for Medika Mamba. One hundred dollars for each mile to be run- to benefit Haiti Rescue Center in their overwhelming need for Medika Mamba (A highly nutritious slurry of peanuts, dry milk, vitamins and minerals) a substance that when fed to a child for 6-8 weeks can literally bring them back from deaths door.

I gave a bit to the cause. $26 - a buck a mile. Mostly cause I felt guilty that I SHOULD be out running myself. And then I met Renald (He's almost 4years old here)

If I found a extra dollar or five in my jeans- it went to the Medika Mamba program (Doctor's Without Borders uses a similar product in Africa called Plumpy Nut). One week i decided- I had enough food in my house and sent the $20 I'd have spent in groceries. Soon- they raised $50,000. In like 6-8 weeks or something insane like that. I have no idea how many kids that will cure of death Kwashiokore- but it's ALOT.  At first i wondered if it were too much. And then --just one day last week there were another 250 kids suffering at the door.  It is incomprehensible. I can't even begin to comprehend it.

Anyway-- that isn't why I was introducing you to the Haiti program. I started typing down this path because much of the links and photos I have to share are from Haiti and that program.  Here is a group of 4 children with progression photos:


Look at the transformation!! AMAZING!!  Although in pictures they look like over fed fat healthy babies- they are closer to 2 years old or older.  Malnutrition does that. You need food to grow.  Sadly, Gilderson passed away earlier this month, November 8th or 9th. As malnourishment causes decreased immune system- its hard to tell why he died. It was sad and frustrating for his care givers who had such hope for him.

You read the facts. The signs and symptoms as defined by Wikipedia and University of Maryland. Below are links to 2 videos- where you'll see what it really means. The faces- the families- the children.

This one is from the rescue center in Haiti. You will notice, on Henrius' body, some of the scaring- I've been told that the Tman had some skin damage and may have scaring from the edema stretching and splitting his skin on his knees. This clip is factual and easy at first. But it gets harder and you may not want to watch the entire thing. Admittedly, I had a visceral reaction to it- so don't keep going if it gets too hard to watch.  But I thought it important to allow you the opportunity to see part of what this "Kwashiokore" really means and it's impact on a child. 

I have many postitive and upbeat things to chronicle-but this update was half written when my laptop had to go in the shop. (Diego's Arctic Adventure DVD decided to stay put-- and it took trained professionals a week and a half to remove him.)  So I promise some fun and exciting stuff soon!! 

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Face...

I'm seeing myself lately. (could be the purpose of Him waiting on me??)

The physical self.  The face that people see. I'm not sure I like the face of me lately.

I love how peoples spirit shows through their face. The glow. The LIFE. That contagious spirit that reaches out and touches anothers heart.

When I see me in photos and mirrors:  I see-- pasty- dim - muted - overcast- sickness.  I'm not sick... it just looks that way. In fact I get comments alot lately "Oh- geez. You don't look like you feel very good! Are you sick?"

That always helps my fragile, over sensitive, nerve exposed ego.  I then collapse into a weeping heap. (just kidding- I do the weeping heap routine in private)

I think this two year APhD (Adoption PhD) path- has consequently put the basic -self -care -taking -care -of -me -and -my -health at the bottom of the 'priority list'.   I eat pretty well... most of the time (what.. you didn't know Tim Horton's Honey Crullers are GOOD for you!?!?!). But the running out of time in a 24 hour day  leaves spending time out side exercising.... well... it just left.

My face already bares that "November North" look. You know the one... lack of Vit D- Complete Depletion of all UV rays and a poisonous level of recirculated dry heat air combined with shakey inside lighting combine to afflict the patient with "Florescent Gloom Syndrome".   This combined with residents reluctance to pull out warmer clothing- results in complete lack of normal exposure to fresh air, social activities, or any PrimeTime TV. (I mean.. geez... it' been completely dark for 4 hours by that time! It's time for bed already.)

I have a sneaky suspicion that my child meeting me in this state... would concern him greatly for my health. Perhaps this is why God is waiting on me. Must do something about it today. Yes Lord!  I hear ya.  Warmer clothes are out.  Today is the day I'll put them to use and venture outside... for oh say.. 15 minutes. Huh? Longer.. ok- let me find the hats and mittens... I'm right behind you. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BIRTH CERTIFICATE has been Received!!!


My boy- you may at one point wonder- what took me so long?  (and then there'll be the teen age years when you'll just want me to go away... we'll deal with that later) Remember that there are many (read: most) things in this world that are not in my control (please forget this in your teen age years. Momma is always in charge then!). 

There are many steps that require other people's signature, ok's, and legal stamps of approval.  Today-  a full 4 weeks after we were legally declared family- your birth certificate was given to me. This is not the last step. There are a few others- more steps- that are not in my control my love. These are things other people have to do. I'm sitting here waiting patiently for you- but rest assured they know how important this is- they know how critical it is for you to be here as soon as possible.

I love you. See you soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He's got the whole world in his hands....

I don't know why-- but gotta share this with you. It is a copy of an email I wrote to my dear friend Dodie.

This entire adoption process has been a full -repeatedly -driving -it -in -lesson in "giving it to God".  I finally came to the point that I can do nothing without him and- if I try-- I may get what I'm striving for-- but it my not be the path He had for me-- such a stupid pursuit.  I just give it to him. Repeatedly.   So many many many times I've told God that "it has to be Him. That I can't do this and I don't want it unless it is His".  (Now, you know me. Coming from a girl that once put her mind to anything and made it happen- no matter what -or who got in the way.... This is progress!)

But I also struggle trying to balance the- Do what you can- and God will do what you can't- principle.   There are moments and situations that these two are sort of .. not necessarily conflicting but.. perhaps.. overlap.  These times i've had to really pray and trust that He'll show me.

These past few weeks since passing court has been a struggle.  There are sooooooo sooooo soooo many reasons to push. To push the agency to do more for him. To speed things up. To call the embassy to get me there faster than what they are predicting will happen. I don't want to be the bitch running around getting people to react to the possible health implications of him not being here and getting treatment. Especially for something he may or may not have!  (and what sort of Jesus loving person chooses to purposefully be a bitch to others in order to satisfy her own itch?) But then... it seems like SOMEONE should be advocating for him.  I want SOMEONE to advocate and push for him.  But something holds me back. And I hear... "this is all in His time."

It took a looooooooooooooooonnnnnnnggggg couple weeks for me to kinda-sorta intermittently in ever growing bits and pieces.. feel some peace in just giving it to Him. I knew that it had to be His glory. I knew that if I pushed... I could get him home... but what glory would that be for God.?  (I'm teary now...)   

Last week- I literally felt at wits end. Collapsing in tears multiple times a day. I knew I had to do something. I asked for something to keep me busy- to lift me up- to keep me from running the scary vile monologues through my head constantly throughout the day.  Just one weekend. A day or two to relieve the pressure-

That is when Alex came to visit for a few days. His brother Tyler woke up with a fever- not sick.. just a fever and he ended up being perfectly fine- but to make sure- the brothers were split up for a couple days- and Alex came with me.  I had a three year old in the house. All to myself. My own little Godsend. The pressure release was palpable.  

I didn't "forget" -- but it had the opportunity to move from the FRONT of my mind- permeating everything... back to where-- where it belonged. Back where I could say- this is not for me to hold onto so tightly- that 'This I give to You' place.

My prayers and conversations with God these past few days have changed from "Please God- Make this happen and that happen and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I really want this"- to "Thank You. I may not understand right now- but You, and only you, have infinite wisdom and blessings beyond my imagination.  Forgive me when I falter and am tempted to take this from you. I trust You. I trust that You are watching over him. I trust that he feels Your love today. I trust that in pain and agony- he feels Your love and comfort which is far more complete than I can provide.  I trust he feels You are with him and he is not alone. I trust that our next step is in your time- for this is all for You."

As I drove home last night- the first night in a long time I didn't weep half the way home- I prayed some more and thanked Him for the strength to get through today. The strength to resist sending a nasty gram and taking it from Him. I also said- Lord I know that tomorrow the urge will come again. Maybe a more forceful urge- to trick me into making those calls and emails. Be with me for I can not do it with out you.  Peace is settling in even more.

Getting bored yet?

This morning--- listening to the local Christian station- they are in their pledge drive season and were reading stories from people. I don't remember exactly how it happened cause it happened in very quick succession-- with urgency. But I remember praying.  Again my brain had started thinking about pushing and making things happen. So I prayed for guidance. At first I heard "you already have your answer. Sit. Let it be. Let Me." and then something happened with a song that was something about "call" yada yada. (hmmm I thought..) Then they started reading a letter from a lady who stated how her family without the financial means was called to adoption and the Lord always Provided and she had a challenge for all those touched by adoption to-- get this--  "pick up the phone and make the call". (yup- of course that I remember!) (BTW- I already made my pledge..) And my eyes started darting... "Yup. You heard it- There's my sign!  I'm gonna cal the agency an..."

I soo wanted to give into that voice. I SOOOOOOOO SOOOOO SOOOO wanted to.  And then I heard it all again. His Glory. Trust in Him. His path. His timing.  I knew if I made that call- I could effect change-- but I would spend a great deal of time convicted about it. The agony of indecision lasted about 3 seconds. As soon as I made the decision- consciencely- and said it aloud "I trust in You".  The peace came back. I'm not bothered by that temptation at all (ok- there is still a little devil whispering in my ear.. but he'll leave soon). 

Here is the reality of this situation. If it is in God's plan for us to be together 'earlier'- it will be. Regardless if I make the call. He can do all. This is all in His hands.   All this complication I created- just to learn this very simple truth.

Now go ahead- I know you want to sing that song don't ya... "He's got the whole world in His hands.. He's got the whole world in His hands.. He's got the.... "  HA  Ha. It's gonna be stuck there all day! (better than "it's a small world!)

Sorry to dump all this on you. It needed to go somewhere.

Love ya babe! 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Round the Same ol' Mountain...

I felt the need to pull myself out of this funk.  Remember that 'waiting' funk I was in for a while.. till I realized 'waiting sucks donkey doo  is bad" and I would pick up with life and move on?  The waiting for a travel date... feels (felt)...      sickening.

Well I went back and read this post.  And I can honestly answer the question: NO. I keep attempting some sort of tug-o-war.  You know what?  Its not a game. Its not supposed to be a struggle. Little by little -I have faith I'll get better (although a big break through would be quite welcomed!)

I followed up reading this one.

Hmmm. Seems I've been here before. Traveled this path. What's the parable?  Going around and round the same mountain. ???

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Social Report!

Such a strange name for such an exciting gift.

Yesterday - I received word that you ... well... I'll edit this later.. but you are experiencing some acute health issues. You are getting medical care and we are all very hopeful that you will be back playing with your friends in the center, soon.  There are hundreds of people praying for you. Praying for God to watch over you. Momma is a bit numb about the whole thing. I know you are not alone. In my gut- deep in my soul- there is peace- cause I know God has you in his hands.(I should also tell you that I'm literally sick with worry. In this country we have medication that sometimes helps...)

Today- the people who cared for you in Ethiopia- sent me some new pictures of you and lots of information on your likes, dislikes, bath time, favorite toys, naps, meals etc.  I'm hope that you'll have found this info either digital, or hard copy - that was saved for you.  After yesterday's heartache... your whole family was joyful to receive more information on your little personality and your bright and shiny face. The front page had your picture- in that picture- there is no doubt you are my son. I am your Momma.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mini Updates 1- Method/Principle

In an attempt to make some of this stuff more palatable (i.e. readable)- I'm going to attempt to send shorter, subject oriented 'updates'.  They will likely be more frequent though...  Normally it takes me a good week or so to write the monthly updates- so I hope the lack of thought re-writes doesn't leave you too disappointed.

As you've realized by now- there are some things that I have to be more cognizant of with The Boy- for a number of reasons.

Sandee's post quoted a quick and easy excerpt from Karen Purvis' Study Guide "Empowered to Connect".  It reads like this:

Children from Hard Places.” This is the phrase used by Dr. Purvis and others to describe children that have experienced some type of abuse, neglect or trauma during their lives... Obviously, this phrase applies to most children who were adopted, spent time in foster care etc.

Our focus for these children must always be clear: to help them heal and become whole in body, mind and spirit. This is done not by focusing on achieving “good behavior,” but by helping our children create strong connections built on trust. Out of this can grow not only “good behavior,” but so many other things that our children need and that we desire for them. By balancing structure with nurture and always remaining mindful of the inherent preciousness of each and every child, we have the opportunity to help our children realize dramatic strides and in the process discover (and re-discover) the joy in parenting.

Heather wrote something else that completely resonated with me- my style- personality. But more importantly- seems somehow intergrated with the second paragraph from Dr. Purvis. 

"She said there are principle people and there are method people. The method people will spend hours trying to formulate the exact "how to" for any sort of thing. They aggressively assert that there is only one "right way" to do something. The principle people could care less about how it happens, just that it happens if it is supposed to. "
I should note Heather wasn't referencing parenting at all (she talking about her mom and cooking.. but still--- some how in my scrambled over-taxed brain--- the concept is the same)  This paragraph itself should tell you which one of those I typically am;  Method vs. Principle.


In some ways- many can attest- I reeeaaalllly struggle with the existence purpose of "Method" and generally takes me twice as long as anyone else to figure out the best "methods" but I muddle through... if it's necessary. 

This is how I see a good chunk of my responsibility in parenting The Boy:  I'll need to take a more 'principled' approach. We won't always be focusing on "the right way" to do things (I rarely believe there is only one way- so I'm typically a waste of good breath trying to get me to believe otherwise).  The priority will be to try and balance the basics of structure with nurturing. Of course- first we have to nourish his Body before the Mind and Spirit can heal.

Joy. Trust. Self Confidence. Conscientious Decision Making.  Will those be the outcome?  Who knows... one can hope.

I'll leave you with a picture from Saturday: Pre Alex emptying bladder in my bed. (note to future-parenting-self:  limit 3 year olds water intake...) Alex would most want you to notice his boots. Connor would most prefer to be taking the picture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Green Monster (not Fenway)....

It finally hit me.

Jealousy. Envy. The "What about meeeeeeeee's"

I was surprised as I went along this journey that, I never looked at a referral post, a court photo or a 1st meeting video and was jealous. I always related to the parents and their emotion- but never a--- "what about me?"

Until 3 minutes ago. (actually I'm scheduling this to post in a few days, but... whatever....)

Yesterday I read a bloggers post, one I stalk keep up to date with regularly.  She had talked about a small update she received on her little girl. One of the updates was tiny ones, height and weight.  They were almost EXACTLY the same as my recent (read: only!) update on the Boy.  Yesterday- I LOVED reading it. I loved fantasizing relating that update to the Boy's. I realize- that isn't smart- nor healthy. But we all project an image of what the future holds as some sort of coping mechanism.  So I did.  Until today....

Today she posted her travel dates. Soon. Very Soon.

The big ugly green monster - that does not visit this house often- crashed the party.

I don't like feeling that way. In fact I'm committed to not being pissy today. I can't afford it anymore. It's too expensive and it's costing me way too much.

And you know what else.. I'm sure you heard it too, back there on the 2nd line?  The "What about meeeeee?" comment....            It's NOT ABOUT ME!!    (nodding ) Yes.  I heard that too.

Shaking it off. Getting busy with life. Being happy for the travelers. Joyful even!!

Peace be with us all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Thrill of the Thrift...

Confession:  My munchkin boy, is stylin!  Already.  Uh huh. Very few things, have I purchased new.  And NEVER at full price (I'm a salvage store shopper).  See these 3 pieces of outdoor gear?  Total cost: $1.00.  That is not a typo- one dollah. The olive and orange lighter jacket was given to me at while visiting Randa in NJ. Her friends were having a clothing swap and they graciously invited me along and picked out the best stuff for the Boy.  He also came away with a pair of black snow pants and a Ralph Lauren White button down. (all of which look and feel brand new).

 These are both 2T. So they'll swim on him for a while...

There are 2 thrift stores- amongst the bins, hangers and occasional folded piles- I can frequently be found- daydreaming.  This yellow set comes from the one run by a local seniors group that supports their community health program.  It is a set of Columbia Ski pants (with bib) and matching winter jacket.  I've found that it is typical that groups that run thrift stores try to charge less for the childrens clothes.  This one charges between a quarter and fifty cents per piece of kids clothes.  It may have been worn a few times one season.

The other local one is run by the Catholic Church in the neighboring town. They sell their clothes by the pound. Uh Huh. Sometimes a quarter a pound. Sometimes fifty cents.  I once got a garbage bag full of boys clothes for $3.50.  They do price their outer wear a bit different.

I've been searching for an 18mo, everyday-ish warm jacket.  I've been scouting the thrifts. I didn't want a new one, cause, I don't think he'll be in that size too long. Each day they open (oh ya- they usually have funky hours) I run in, and see if there are any new ones on the racks. I've found some over the weeks but not any that I liked or were in a condition I'd take home.  Until this little gem.

London Fog 18m Water resistant, Orange Fleece Lined $2
Who knew London Fog made kids coats?

I know that there are "logical"  and "Good community" reasons to shop at these types of stores.
  • great savings on wardrobe
  • kids grow fast they grow out of clothes before the clothes wear out (especially ones coming home internationally)
  • It basically ends up being like renting the clothes as I'll bring the good ones back as soon as he grows out of them
  • Volunteer lead- good community outreach purposes

Yes. I found all those to be true.   You want to know WHY I ended up at these places?
  • The only thing I felt like I could do FOR him, was get his clothes
  • Great day dreaming time
  • Call it therapy

These are 2 of my fav's. Only the olive pants were new from Mardens. THRIFT STORES RULE!

I'll refrain from showing you his closet. Mostly cause it's my closet too and that part is messy. His section(s) is neat as a pin.  To give you an idea of what good stuff you can find with a little time, patience and day dreaming determination... these totes are full of clothes that aren't (obviously) in his closet:

They are organized by Tops or Bottoms and then by size with the totes labeled on the outside at the point the size changes. My crap is lucky to get washed and folded before it gets tossed in a tote for the next season...

I'm really going to enjoy having my Boy here to care for.