Thursday, October 23, 2008

The blue folder

A blue folder. Doesn't mean much to most. Pretty nondescript. Good logo. Plain.

But it's the inside that's exciting. It's filled with lots and lots and lots of paperwork that we get to complete for our next adoption!

I'm weird in that I actually enjoy filling out forms and working on administrative stuff. So it's not that big of a pain to me. Time-consuming? Check. A little confusing? Check. Monotonous? Check. Major financial commitment? Check.

But every time I see that blue folder sitting on the table or the bed or the counter or wherever it ends up around the house as we work on its contents, I feel a thrill and excitement about this next adventure that God has for us.

That folder reminds me so much when we went through this process to adopt Elias. At the time, we were often fearful of so many unknowns that lay ahead of us. The paperwork process seemed challenging and a daunting task. Being parents to a little child across the world who we didn't even know yet seemed impossible.

But then love entered the picture. First through our hearts as we encountered a sweet, tender love in Jesus that we hadn't experienced before. And then as we saw that first little picture of a beaming Ethiopian boy that was to be our son.

And now we get to live life day in and day out with the gift that God had for us that whole time. That reality is a great perspective as we are going through the process for Ethiopian child #2.

So far we're patient, calm, and expectant about all that God is going to do. And in the same breath I can say that we're afraid, hesistant, and wondering how it's going to all work out. But really it's a great place to be and a perfect time to take an honest assessment of priorities and Who and what we put our hope in.

This is long enough already, so here's the skinny on our process so far...

  • We're using AAI again and Lutheran Social Services for our homestudy agency
  • Our first visit with the homestudy social worker is this Saturday. Hopefully the follow-up appointment will be shortly after that and then the homestudy will be finished
  • We've applied for USCIS immigration stuff
  • We hope to be finished with the dossier paperwork (minus the homestudy) this weekend
  • Once the dossier is at AAI and some processing done, we'll be on the official waiting list. We hope this happens in December sometime.
  • We have no idea when we'll receive a referral. Probably a long time from now. In my head I've been thinking a timeframe of traveling to Ethiopia next fall to get our child.
  • We're asking to adopt an amputee child or child in need of an amputation. Just like they told us when we were in the process for the first adoption, there are no amputee children in the orphangae. So we'll just wait and see what God does! It was a miracle that we got Elias and so we know it could happen again.

For quite a while now, Elias has been saying that we're going to adopt a little boy with a baby sister. Who knows?!? Maybe God has already given him the inside scoop. :-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Shark

Our swimming season is finally coming to a close. In Austin, no one seems to swim anymore when it's a chilly 84 degrees outside.

Elias did GREAT in the pool this year. He's brave and courageous when it comes to trying new things in the water.

We first got to experience this side of him when we were in Ethiopia in 2006. He was quite ill most of the week and very quiet. On the fifth day of our week there, we drove three hours through the countryside of Ethiopia to visit a hot spring area.

As soon as we got into the water, Elias became alive. He smiled, laughed, splashed around and had the time of our life.

It was a sweet glimpse into the true personality of a little boy we knew hardly anything about at the time.

He's still the same today and needless to say, we spent lots of time at the pool this summer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Update on Sam

Sam is doing better and even smiling and laughing at times! He is so courageous and strong.

His mother Carole wrote the following on their caringbridge site. I was so touched by her words and encouraged by her Godly perspective on this tragedy...

It has been one week since our lives were altered by the accident. Horrific and tragic - yet I won't be using those descriptors again.

Because we have SAM! He's with us. His body has changed forever but he's still got the same spirit and I am seeing him emerge from his sadness and flickers of that little guy who could make me laugh and see red with regularity.

I have been described as strong and such and believe me, it is simply God and prayer. Sam is the one who has been so strong and he's not only fighting this setback, he's starting to shine. I can talk about when he gets new feet/legs and he'll look at me and give his head a shake of affirmation. He is still sad but at times I am too.

So am I mad at God? Heaven forbid, no! Haven't even thought of it. Where was God then? Right there. When I first realized I tried to grab Paul and Mary and get them up the hill to the house. We stopped on the driveway and held hands and I instructed them to pray. And we did. And we asked God to hold little Samuel. And He did.

During the long drive to the hospital (its about an hour) I was of course in shock and for the first part Marty and I drove in silence. I realized that it was grave and that we would very likely experience the horror of losing a child. I admitted that I didn't know what to pray. Sam's injuries were so severe that I felt selfish pleading with God not to take him from me. And yet I thought of Maria Sue Chapman and knew that I didn't care what - I wanted my son. And I was torn. How could he survive and yet, how could he ever function?

So I prayed specifically for Sam to know he was loved and to have peace and to realize he was being held in God's very hand. And that is exactly what happened.

Sam's injuries have altered his body permanently. We still do not know the exact extent - yet he is still our Sam. If I cannot look at his severed limbs and accept, then how can I ever ask for him to? And I have come to realize a couple of things this past week . . .

Sam is beautiful. His legs are beautiful, his arm is beautiful, his colostomy is as well. He is precious and although his legs are now "different" from many others, he is no less precious or loved or worthy. I saw his arm for the very first time today and as the area was being exposed I simply prayed that I could look at this area and see him simply as God did. I could look at his arm and then directly in his face and say . . . hey, it looks great! And I wasn't telling him a lie. He is gloriously and wonderfully made and this accident did not change that.

I live in Wisconsin so I have to put a Wisconsonite spin on it. This accident happened and to quote Brett Farve (during the recent trade request) . . . "it is what it is." I cannot change it. So as a Christian I can rant and wail and lament and lash out, or I can set my shoulders forward and step out in faith in this new direction. We had an accident and God stepped in a swooped up my child and carried us through to a place where Sam is able to begin the healing process.

This is an opportunity. We can either fold up and wither or we can choose to plant ourselves firmly right where we are and decide to aim for blossoming once again.

I have been enriched, embraced and enveloped in the body of Christ through this. How could I think about choosing otherwise?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pray for Sam

Our hearts are saddened by a recent tragedy in another adoptive family. Sam is Elias' age and was adopted from Ethiopia just five short weeks ago.

He was in a tractor accident last Saturday and his injuries are very severe. He is currently stable, but his condition is still serious and complicated.

Both of his legs are amputed and they are trying to save his arm. He has multiple other injuries as well.

Please pray for Sam, his parents and other siblings. They live in Wisconsin. You can access their caringbridge site here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Making a Leg PART I: Casting

Daddy Prosthetist is in the process of making a new leg for Elias so I thought it'd be fun to chronicle the process here on the blog.

The process involves several steps. The first step is to cast the residual limb. However in our house, we're very casual in the terms that we use, so rather than using the technical term of residual limb, we say, "Mr. Stumpy".

I should note here that Mr. Stumpy is like his own entity. We say things such as, "Put Mr. Stumpy in your shorts" or Elias may say "I hurt Mr. Stumpy!" We love Mr. Stumpy.

I digress.

First Step: Cast Mr. Stumpy

Elias puts on a special little outfit made out of cotton stockinnette (that's a real word). At this point Daddy Prosthetist affectionately calls him Huck Finn.

Daddy Prosthetist (herein referred to as DP) then smooths out all the wrinkles on Mr. Stumpy's stockinette and makes it as tight as possible.
DP then dips the casting tape in water and begins to wrap it around Mr. Stumpy. This part makes Elias a little nervous because he's afraid it's going to hurt or something. Of course it never does.

The water sets off a chemical reaction with the casting tape and becomes rigid as DP smooths it all with his hands.

After about 5 minutes, the cast becomes rigid enough that it will maintain the perfect shape of our friend Mister Stumpy. (Notice Elias' fan club at the end of the table. Two of his cousins are visiting for a week so they got to tag along).
The cast is now ready to come off. DP cuts off the Huck Finn outfit at the top of the cast then slowly begins to pull the cast off. If it gets stuck it may be necessary to use bandage scissors at the top of the cast to loosen it a bit.

Wha la! A finished replica of Mr. Stumpy!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Making a Leg.