Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ethical questions raised

A few days ago, Jacob came home played me this interview he had heard the beginning of earlier that day. Listen to it here if you want some reference for my discussion.

I have a mixed response. Let me first address "the movement" and where we fit in, then I'll address the ethical questions of our international adoption.

In college, my best friend invited me to spend 2 weeks at an orphanage in South Africa (2003 I believe). I LOVE children in general, and my experience sealed it in my heart that I want to provide a  loving home to a child in need of parental love and care. Jacob's conviction came after a sermon that mentioned a scripture about caring for orphans and widows, but was not a strong point or specific instruction in the sermon. I had no idea that greater church leaders were organizing around this issue, nor was our decision a part of that (not that anything would be wrong with that).

This author presents the church in a cut-and-dry fashion, yet a few comments make me think she is not cynical about it, but I guess I'd have to read her book to see if she makes any judgements on the church. I think it is great that the church is being challenged to decompartmentalize what it means to be pro-life. I think it is great for any group to intentionally encourage people to care for children who are in need, either foster care or adoption. And as far as "evangelizing" being a goal, that's just what being a parent is, passing down what you are convicted is true about life. I am a bit concerned that the matter-of-fact tone of the author in this interview may construe church leaders as promoting adoption in a political or business-like  way, which is not how the bible teaches about caring for others, nor has it been my experience with the church.

And then the ethical question. From the beginning we prayed and pursued to offer our family for a child who really needed us. During several delays in our process (which were all to ensure the ethical nature of this adoption), I resubmitted my heart to whatever was best for the child. I trusted God to guide us to where we could best serve, and the US government also made sure that everyone was aware and in agreement with this adoption. The fact that his twin passed away, his growth is so behind, his multiple hospitalizations, and his physical state when we finally got him (which is remarkable as great as he is now), all confirmed for us as well that he needed a new environment, not just to thrive, but to survive. I'm thankful for the hang-ups, even though they were difficult at the time, so that we have the peace of mind now.

I hope that adoption and foster care continue to be important to the church always. I hope that international adoptions would heal their reputation, being more honest and ethical, but not necessarily more difficult for parents and children. Finally, I hope that Enam will love Ghana and feel like his biological family is still a part of him, because I know they loved him. If he grew up and connected with his family there also, I would be happy. All I want for this child is life and to glorify God. None of my children are "mine", they are God's gracious gifts that I get to nurture for a time, not to serve me, but to serve Him. We see adoption as not giving Enam a new foreign family, but enlarging his family with more people to love and care for him. Definitely you guys, our friends and family, are apart of enlarging his family as well. Thanks again for your support.

I'm already having to get used to the fact that I can't just "blend in" anymore. Now on top of dealing with more attention, this interview made me feel self-conscious. I once again had to shake off the possibility of what judgements others might have about our family. But after almost 7 years of motherhood, I know where to turn to find my identity and peace, to the providence and sovereignty of God in my life and reassured in his word. I hope this new book will help improve ethical standards in international adoptions, but would not turn people away from seeking how they may be called to care for orphans or children at risk. In fact, right after Jacob and I got married, we started sponsoring a Hope Child through World Vision. It is a child who is considered at risk for being orphaned. Our sponsorship helps supply her education and supports the economic and spiritual development of her community so that she doesn't end up in an orphanage. Its another great way to get involved.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


So much has happened since I last posted! I work best organized, so let me break it down chronologically.

Thursday morning we took a long taxi ride to Biriwa, near Cape Coast. There we met the woman who brought the Enam and his twin brother to the orphanage. Then we walked through a bit of the village to the family home of his maternal biological family. We met his gradparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and older half brother. He seemed to recognize them, it was the only time he would willingly go to anyone but Jacob or myself. I figure the grandmother must have been his primary caregiver, he was always reaching for her, even when another family member held him. There was so much I thought to say later, but at the time I was a bit overwhelmed. They did not speak english, butthe adoption worker translated for us and the family was very happy and positive about his adoption. We plan to exchange email to send them pictures and updates. I'm so thankful that they wanted to meet us. I think he will love this part of his story and the pictures as he grows up, knowing that his biological family allowed us into his family to love and care for them out of their own love and care for him.

 (left: grandmother, right: older half brother)
family home, extended family

Friday we waited at the US Embassy for about 2 hours to pick up his visa, packed up and headed to the airport early. We got through everything at the airport smoothly. Enam slept most of our international flight; Jacob and I, on the other hand, was another story. We had a 10 hour lay over at the JFK airport, so we changed clothes, took turns napping, watched movies, and played with the babe.

When we arrived, Keiran and Rylan were waiting for us with signs. Keiran came to us, but Rylan just jumped up and down and said, "I'm here, I'm here!" A group of people from church were also there to welcome us. It was great!

At first Enam did not like the car seat, but the boys entertained him and cheered him up. We grabbed Little Caesar's Pizza (they donated pizzas to feed volunteers at our fundraiser last year) and took our family home. Enam really enjoyed playing with the boys. Rylan just kept saying, "hello Enam," and waving even when right beside him. It was really cute and sweet.

He's been sleeping great in his crib too, not perfect, but has transitioned much better than I expected. I'm so thankful, sleeping was probably what I was most anxious about. I'm assuming his catch-up growth (he's no where near the growth charts right now due to his malnutrition) requires a lot of sleep!

He has a very sweet and fun-loving personality. He LOVES his brothers, and they very sweetly adore him also. Rylan tells everyone that "Enam is our baby brother." He has warmed up to me a lot and seems very comfortable in our home. It seemed our house was his first time for him to be barefoot on carpet. He's been pointing at the windows, and it was finally warm enough to play outside. We had a great time blowing bubbles, riding toys, the swing set and trampoline games (they run and wrestle more than jump).
At night, after we read a book as a family, the boys each give him a hug and kiss, and Enam just beams!  His homecoming has been so incredible sweet, a great redemption for the difficult journey to get him home.

Thanks everyone for your support in so many ways: prayers, financial support, encouraging words, scripture, facebook likes and comments, emails, and texts. Also thanks to my sweet neighbors, Michelle, Keziah, Stephanie, Ann Rose, and to our friend Chelsea and my mom for taking care of the big brothers while Jacob and I where out of country.

Jacob is back to work and school now, and I am gradually getting back to my 3 day a week schedule. It is different jumping in with a toddler and aligning our expectations. But he is great and it is much easier than a newborn at this point (certainly not the case before the homecoming).

We still have an adoption "to do" list and expenses ahead, but it is a much lighter load to carry having my family home now.

I can't say thanks enough. Hopefully the cute pictures help :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The final wait before home

I got to Ghana Monday morning, dropped off my bags, and went straight to meet Enam and Jacob at the hospital. He was doing great, so the discharged him later that morning. The doctor said he had pneumonia, and they were covering him for malaria to be sure. Then the nurse came in and told us his iron was low and that we would need to give him a supplement (a healthier diet will help too once we can get home). She then told us he had sickle cell. When I asked if it was sickle cell disease and was this an acute chest syndrome, she said yes. I was then a bit worked up and preparing myself for caring for a chronic disease, but then I looked at the labs they drew. According to the labs he had sickle cell trait, meaning only some of his red blood cells sickle and some are normal.  This is a much better prognosis! Still I'm curios if our doctor at home will want to retest him to be sure. The good news is that our hospital bill was only about $300 for a 2 night stay, x-rays and labs! W have also been very thankful for things to work out with the delay as we would be just boarding the airplane when he got sick had our first plan worked out.

Now we are just running out the clock until we can pick up his visa and hope on a plane. We will make a quick trip Thursday to his hometown to say goodbye and maybe one last look for souvenirs.
We appreciate Ghana and all it's beauty, but we are ready to get back to home life.

Thanks to everyone who has helped care for us, our oldest boys and our home while we have been out. The support we have felt has been so amazing. I'm so happy that he will not only get to have a loving family, but also e loved by such a caring community.  Thanks again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm about an hour from flying out to Ghana! Jacob said the Enam did great today and is hopeful he will be released tomorrow.

Pray for a good night. I think we have both been pretty freaked out about finances. Money that we were supposed to have didn't come through (from more than one source and circumstances that were no fault of our own). All week there have been unexpected expenses, including hospital charges now. I think today Jacob and I are both starting to calm down and grasp hold of faith, patience and perseverance. God knows all and more than that he loves us and "has plans to prosper us." So we are shaking off the discouragement, getting our eyes back on the truth, and moving forward.

Hebrews 12 has been a huge encouragement.
(12)Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint rbut rather be healed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pray for healing

Jacob called me this afternoon concerned about Enam running fever and acting "out of it". He's been sick all week withe cold symptoms and diarrhea, but perky and playful between naps. But not so much today. Jacob took him to the hospital and they decide to admit him. They gave him about 3 different antibiotics and an anti malaria medication. His fever came down and he was able to be a bit playful before he fell asleep for the night.

Please pray first of all that Enam recover quickly. Second that God would provide for the medical bills.

Thank you all again. We really feel so supports by a great community of people who love our family. It's beautiful to see through this painful process.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

There's always a catch

Enam's visa has been approved!

Jacob met his biological mom today for the visa interview. He said she was happy about the adoption and was very sweet. He got a picture of her and got to show her pictures of our family. I am very thankful for that opportunity.

The catch is that they will not have the visa ready for us to pick up this Friday, but next Friday.

It's pretty expensive for me to fly out there also. Right now we are waiting on our tax return (our accountant doesn't have the estimated return yet) and some payments from work to come in, but we are not sure exactly what they will be. It could be that we have everything we need to pay for my ticket and the coming medical and legal expenses, but it is not in the bank yet nor do we know exactly the amounts. Also, our agency declared bankruptcy, so we are not getting some deposit money back either.  I debated with Jacob all day whether to take the risk and expense. I finally decided that I need to travel for the sake of being more apart of the transition out of Africa into our home. Jacob said that they would go to the village he's from and say goodbye to people there (assuming orphanage and extended family). I just couldn't miss being apart of these special moments and we will just have to trust that the adoption tax credit will really help give us that little bit more to make this happen.

Jacob is in the middle of his night's sleep as I write this, so I haven't even told him yet that I booked the flight. But it seems more right than not going. So please pray for peace and provision about the final financial matters. God has met us at every turn with what we need, I know he will again if I can turn away from my fear about spending money that is not quite in the bank yet.

Finally, I'll leave you with this picture. I was a bit stressed putting the kids to bed, just so much weighing on me and so much to do. Then, I found this in Keiran's backpack. It was so incredibly sweet, it really helped give me perspective and calm my worries.


As I pack to leave, I just have to share a few more cute pictures. I can't get over how beautiful this boy is!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our projected plan to bring him home!

The biological mother has been located and has agreed to go to the Embassy Thursday for the visa interview.  We have been told she has a good attitude about it all and I am excited to maybe get a picture of her that Enam can keep to remember her by. 

So here is what we are hoping for this week:
Thursday: Visa interview (about 8am our time)
Friday: Visa issued
Saturday-Sunday: Jacob flies back with Enam!
Sunday: I fly up to New York to join them for the final stretch of the journey home

Please pray that it will all go well. Also please pray for Enam's health. When Jacob got him Sunday, he said his skin was very dry and he had several nasty sores on his hands and wrist. The owners of the hotel where his is staying were able to go the the pharmacy and get him some antibiotic cream. He also has a nasty cold and ran a low-grade fever this morning. Jacob said he was coughing a lot last night. Yes, this is what I do for a living, treat childhood ailments, but this is my baby and he is coming out of a completely different environment that gives me enough uncertainty to be nervous. But I'm asking for more faith to trust in God as a mighty healer, even in Africa.  

Here are some of the latest pictures:

 love this cute smile!

Check out those eyelashes!