Thursday, March 25, 2010

Medical Update

I tried to get on here earlier today to post this update, but for some reason I couldn't get on. Isaiah's appointment with the dr. at the International Adoption Clinic went well. Of course, he didn't enjoy the blood draw, but other than that it was no big deal for him. They're running a lot of test on the blood, and he will also be tested again for intestinal parasites. We're not sure the last one is completely cleared up or he may have something(s) else. Overall, she said he's in good health. A lot of interesting information. She said there seems to be evidence of Rickets in the past. She wants us to see a dermatologist about a birthmark on his arm. Since the Ethiopian medical records show him having had malaria, he will need to be tested for that. Unfortunately, malaria "hides" in the blood unless he has a fever, so we have to wait until the next time he gets a fever. And he needs to get a TB test and start an immunization schedule. We'll go back in 6 months for her to evaluate his growth/progress.

The more interesting news, is the dr. agreed with us that he seems he is closer to turning 3, not 4 as the Ethiopian birth certificate shows. So we picked a birth date of May 16, 2007 . . . why?? Well, we went with May because that's the month on the Ethiopian certificate, so we thought why not? Then Joe wanted it to be the 8th so he could remember (Joey's, Gracie's and my birthdays are all the 8th) ;o) So, I suggested we make it the 16th since Madie's is April 16 so maybe it'll help him remember hers, too . . . so now I guess I'll just have to remind him of Josh's birthdate ;o)

Playing in the waiting room at Riley

Monday, March 22, 2010

Looking Back . . . Tuesday . . . and this past weekend

First, looking back. Tuesday in Ethiopia was the day we were assured we'd have our luggage - they even gave us flight numbers. We went shopping with our group Tuesday morning, which was quite an adventure. Many little shops in a row - most no bigger than a walk-in closet, stacked with stuff and very pushy sales people! We had a great time and got some pretty neat souvenirs . . . and only got "taken" a few times ;o) But it's all good - they need the money more than we do, right? ;o)

After shopping, we headed back to the guest house where the group was dropped off for lunch. We, however, skipped lunch to take a ride to the airport, where we got to spend over an hour to find out that our luggage was still in Dubai . . . to laugh or cry?? It was definitely a toss-up at this point! I will say though, for those of you who don't know Joe, it takes A LOT to get him angry. In fact, I don't know that I can remember ever seeing him truly angry . . . let's just say, he was a man with a red face and very few words on the ride back from the airport that day! I know this was such a big stress point for both of us during this week, and I am so thankful for him being my "rock" by dealing with all of this baggage and airline mess. I truly would have had a mental breakdown if I had to do it!

Then we headed to the transition home to get Isaiah. While it was exciting, it was emotional for me, as well, thinking of what little we had to help care for Isaiah. We were able to visit the second transition home, where Isaiah actually lived, for a short time. Isaiah loved the van ride and, as you'll see in the pictures, he loved the little flashlights . . . Praise the Lord, one of the few things for Isaiah that I actually did pack in my carry-on. We stopped at a grocery store on the way back to pick up some supplies that we needed until our luggage got there.

Isaiah almost instantly warmed up to us once we were in the hotel room that night. Here is the video of the first time we heard him giggle . . . I was in tears on the other side of the camera!

Isaiah in his bed at the transition home (not sure why this pic didn't rotate??)
Talking with one of Isaiah's nannies at the transition home, with our translator, Fami.
In front of transition home #2

Reaching out to one of his friends at the transition home (the Ballard's precious daughter!)

Playing with the flashlights

playing at the guest house with some little animals we picked up shopping that morning
He LOVED the big, soft bed!

More of the amazing scaffolding they build and work on . . . no safety harnesses here!
view from the top of the guest house . . . forgive me if this is a repost ;o)
And now, back to today!

Isaiah had a chance to meet his McDaniel grandparents at the airport when we arrived home, but that was just a short meeting. They were able to come down this past Friday and spend a few hours getting to know him, and him them. We played in the backyard with the bubbles and toys they brought, grilled dinner, and then went to Ritter's for Isaiah's first taste of ice cream . . . well, technically custard! He liked it better than I thought he would since he's not big on sweets, but he was still much more interested in trying to run into the parking lot ;o)

Then we took him to meet our church family for the first time on Sunday. Joe took the older three to Sunday School, and Josh, Isaiah and I joined them for church. Isaiah was shy and silent, but he did well and sat quietly and pretty still the entire time Daddy was preaching. One of my first thoughts as we began to see God clearly leading us to adopt, was how wonderful it would be, not only to bring a child into our physical family, but also into our amazing church family! I am so excited for them to get to know him, and for him to be a part of God's body at Grace Bible Church!!

Many of you have asked how Isaiah is adjusting. As far as we know, things seem to be going well. But only God knows what is coming down the pike, and we are so thankful that He is also the one who will give us the wisdom, strength, and grace to handle whatever that is! The kids are great with him, which is a huge help to us. Josh is the only one who seems to be going through some "transitions", but he'll be okay ;o) Although the pictures below may look staged, they're really not. The only thing I told them to do was stop walking so I could get a picture!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's Happening Today!

Okay, so I do plan to get back to posting pictures from our week in Ethiopia, but I wanted to post some current pictures. My parents were here from Monday night through Wednesday night and we had a really nice visit. Isaiah warmed up to them pretty quickly. He wouldn't leave my dad alone ;o) But, as we already know, he seems to prefer men at this point. From what we know, he has never had a consistent male figure in his life, and the women always leave him, so from that standpoint, it makes sense.

Isaiah seems to be adjusting well to our family. His meltdowns have decreased in number and duration. He seems to understand us well, even though he's not able to communicate in English a whole lot yet. But it's coming! He is also being more vocal about asking for things like letting us know when he wants to eat, and when he is done - but, man, can that little guy eat!! :o) He's not a big fan of desserts in general, doesn't seem to like chocolate, but he loves jelly beans! We continue to pray for wisdom and discernment with all of our children, but particularly as we seek to parent this little guy!

Anyway, here are some pictures from our visit!

He loves all vehicles, so the trains and cars were a big hit!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Looking Back . . . Monday

Monday, March 1, started out with our "paperwork party" at the hotel. We met with Fami, finished some paperwork, and were given a folder with some more information on our children. In our folder for Isaiah were some medical reports as well as a schedule for what his days looked like at the transition home. What almost knocked me over was looking in the left-hand pocket of our folder and seeing two pictures that Isaiah had colored!

Duni on the left (with Dale & Kristi Hall) and Fami on the right.

We were joking around about how the women were all doing the paperwork, so I had to get a picture of Joe writing his signature ;o
"T" and Robel

Robel was cold. It was 70 degrees, but that was chilly for the Ethiopians. I offered to lend him my jacket, and he said that'd be fine, as long as it wasn't pink ;o) I had to get a picture!

Then we met Duni, who is the in-country director of AWAA. It was neat listening to her talk about alot of the aspects of adoption. A couple of things stuck out to me. In talking about the possibility of meeting birth parents, she told a story of one man who could not care for his child and so, had given that child up for adoption. In his village, the people did not understand what he had done and told him he had given his child to the devil. They told him it would've been better for his child to stay there and die than to be given to the devil. After meeting his child's adoptive parents and receiving a photo of them, he was able to show that picture to his village and spread the understanding of what was really going on. It was neat to hear this from their perspective.

She also mentioned a new program that they are implementing over there. I have learned so much about Ethiopia and their adoption process over the last year. One thing I have been impressed with over and over is their care, as a society, for their children. They do not take the giving up of or the adoption of children lightly. There is a long investigation into each child's background to be sure they are truly orphaned. If they are a "true orphan", meaning their parents are both dead, they look for a family member to care for the child. If a parent feels they cannot care for their child, they have to prove that to the government, and bring three witnesses to that fact. The child can then be declared adoptable and matched with an adoptive family. That parent and the witnesses must then, also, appear at the court date in order for that child to be adopted. The question has been brought up to us of why they wouldn't just help the parent to then care for the child themselves. What we learned is that every effort is made to do that. If the government (who gets no money from international adoption, by the way) feels the parent can take care of their child, they refuse the parents request. The program that Duni mentioned is that she is raising money to be able to try to help get mothers back on their feet to be able to care for their children. We bought some scarves and books while we were there to support that ministry. She wants to provide some financial help, but mostly counseling for these women, as there are usually more and deeper issues that just not having money.

Whew, anyway ;o) I could talk for hours on adoption, let alone our experience on this trip. Of course this was the day we met Isaiah for the first time, but I have already written about that in my post on that day. This is a short video of Joe getting Isaiah to smile for us for the first time - playing basketball ;o) Be patient, I had the lens closed when I first started filming - oops!

In the afternoon, the ladies went to a spa and had our nails done. Maria, who's 8, got her hair braided and looked adorable! Joe didn't think I should try it ;o) Joe got to spend his afternoon on the phone with the airlines. Later in the evening, we all went to a traditional Ethiopian dinner.
They come around and wash your hands before and after the meal, since you eat with your hands. Notice my hot pink nails ;o)
injera - you use the bread to pick up the food and eat. Theoretically, the plate should be completely clean when we were done, but I guess us Americans didn't have big appetites that night! Apparently the egg in the middle is a special treat. And "T", David and Robel said they eat it with raw meat. Ewww!! Ours was all cooked meat, but they tried to talk Joe into having it with them. The cooked food was more than enough for his stomach to handle, so he passed on that offer!

Below are some short video clips of the entertainment for the evening. Unfortunately, we didn't bring our video camera with us to dinner, so these are not as high quality b/c they were on my digital camera.

Just some more scenery!