Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday, and I have the most precious gift given to me directly from my Father. It has been a little over a year since I received my referral for Belen. June 24 of last year was the first time I saw my daughter's face through three of the most prized photos. I remember sleeping with those pictures for the longest time (I made many copies). This time last year, I was elated and attempting to prepare for motherhood. There was no way of knowing that I would be thrown into the role of "mother" before I ever held my baby. I remember vividly my conversations I had with my family on my birthday. All of them focused on becoming a mom and preparing for my long awaited trip. Two days after, I got a call from my agency letting me know Belen was very ill, and we needed to pray. Immediately, I was thrust into motherhood. I grieved for my child as any mother would; I cried out to God continuously for three days until I heard she was improving. My tears of agony became tears of joy and praise. So, today isn't about growing is about life and a new beginning. Hopefully, I have gained a little wisdom this past year. It has been the most beautiful and most difficult time of my 39 years.

I want to take time, as I have so many times this year, to thank my Father for my precious gift.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Time is Flying By

It has been about over four months since I have been home with Belen. It is amazing how life has changed. For the past several years, I had practically lived at and for my job. Now, I can't wait to leave work, so Belen and I can spend as much time together as possible. Belen is also changing. It seems that every day she is saying something new, progressing in what she will eat, moving a little farther along the couch as she tries to maintain her balance, or just making a goofy face to get my attention. Life is not perfect in our little house. In fact, I had my first major mommy meltdown last week as Belen and I sobbed together. Some days are harder than others, and I wasn't handling all of my responsibilities as a mom very well that day. Even though not all days are "Norman Rockwell" days, I have not ever experienced the joy that I have felt in the past four months.
Since I have not posted in a couple of months, I wanted to share some pictures from her birthday and the holidays.
I told you she makes goofy faces. This is the face she
makes when she wants sympathy. It is silly, but she knows I will
ask, "Oh, are you okay, Baby Girl?" every time she makes it.
Yes, I am a sucker.

If you look closely, you will notice she has wrapping paper in both hands.
That was her favorite part of the gifts...tearing the paper (and attempting to
eat it sometimes).

Belen loved her birthday cake!

She was enjoying her post Thanksgiving dinner at this point.
Belen began crawling the week of Thanksgiving. Now,
She pulls herself up and walks a little along things.

All wrapped up at Silver Dollar City. She was
mesmerized by the lights.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Racism Reared Its Ugly Head

Tonight, Belen and I made our routine, not-so-quick, trip to Wal-Mart. Wherever we go, it is inevitable that someone will make a comment about how lovely she is. Belen seems to catch the attention of many. There have been a few times that the looks were more a form of indifference or even nonacceptance. My view is that is their choice and loss, and I go on about my business. Tonight, proved to be something we have not experienced as a family...Filthy, Disgusting, Vile RACISM.

Belen and I passed a couple with a new born when turning down an aisle, when I realized that was not the aisle I needed. That meant we ran into the couple again immediately only to hear filthy, disgusting, vile words spoken by the man about my family. To be honest, my first reaction was confusion. Within a split second, my confusion turned to anger. As I continued to shop and sort out what had just happened, Baby Girl and I ran into them again. This time, this vile human being began to speak the same words directly in front of us until the woman told him to stop. Some of you reading this will think I am exaggerating when I say I felt such an evil presence about him, but it is true. He is an evil, vile, despicable human being, and I truly felt that presence. I should have kept walking, but the protector in me stopped, clinched my teeth, and glared. If he would have said one more word, I felt I was going to hit him. Even though Belen could not have realized what was happening, I still felt he was attacking my child, and I was not going to let that happen.

This incident occurred about 2 hours ago, but I still feel extremely sick to my stomach. I think I had prepared myself as best as I could for the indifference and the nonacceptance, but not for complete, utter hatred. Does anyone have any advice, a website, or reading material, that I could use to help me better handle myself in these situations? I know one book I am going to pick up as soon as I finish this post. Right now, because of my feelings toward that man, I need the Word to consume me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pictures Paint a Thousand Words...Plus

Papa Gary is holding his beautiful, dancing ballerina.

I do believe that is the cutest, little lady bug I have ever seen.

Look, Grandma! I can sit up on my own!

Years down the road, I will be in trouble for posting this one.

I know I haven't posted in over a month, but as you can tell by these pictures, I have been a little busy. Belen is truly flourishing, and I love being a part of every moment of it. She can now sit up on her own and play. With a little help, she can also stand while I hold her hands. Her vocabulary (Ma Ma, Bah Bah, Pa Pa, etc.) grows daily. She mimics sounds whether she hears them in surrounding conversations, on television, or the radio. It can be quite humorous at times. I believe she is going to be a conversationalist. Yes, like her mother.
I just wanted to give a brief update through pictures showing everyone how well my little one is doing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finally, Some Pictures!!

This is the first time I held Belen. My mom is to the right.

Belen was a sick little girl. This picture makes me a
little sad every time I look at it. I felt so helpless.

Ready to cheer on her cousin, Tatyana, in a soccer game.
Actually, I think she is enjoying the Tic Tac box more.

Baby Girl LOVES her food.
She is healthy and happy.

I wanted to share some pictures that show the transformation Belen has gone through in just a few short weeks. She is doing quite well. As you can tell by the last photo, she loves her breakfast. Thank you for all of the prayers that have brought Belen to this point. She is a doll, and I love her so very much!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Settling In

Please accept my apologies for not posting sooner. I know some of you have been waiting for a post or pictures. Well, life has been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks. I never could have imagined how much everything would change.

Ethiopia Trip-I don't know where to begin.
I have experienced life in developing countries prior to this trip, but I am never prepared for how life is so different in other parts of the world. I didn't begin to appreciate, for specific reasons, the culture until close to the end of my trip. There are so many aspects of my life that I take for granted...drinking water, paved sidewalks, health care, etc. An Ethiopian gave me a lesson in appreciating what I have in my life. He said, "We may be a poor nation, but we appreciate what we do have." I can't say I do that. So many times, I focus on what I don't have.

I had stated that I didn't appreciate the Ethiopian culture until later in the trip for a couple of reasons that held my focus elsewhere. I had the opportunity to meet Belen's family the first Sunday we were in Ethiopia. Mom and I flew in Saturday night, and I became very ill shortly after arriving. I had not read the directions properly on my motion sickness meds (duh!). Because of that, I was unable to make the 4 hr. trip. I still regret that for my daughter's sake. The sickness lasted for about 3 days. Even when I held Belen for the first time, I was trying not to get sick.

This leads me to our not-so-picture-perfect meeting. Monday, August 31, all of the families waited in the courtyard by the orphanage anxiously waiting to meet their child for the first time. I was filled with so many emotions (including trying not to get sick). I wasn't sure of my initial until I heard the travel director say to one of the the caregivers to bring out Belen. I immediately began to cry quietly. When my little girl was brought to me, I was surprised by all of the white blisters that consumed her body. It didn't stop me from embracing her and kissing her spotted little cheeks. I didn't know she had the chicken pox. Belen seemed a little taken back by this stranger holding her and kissing her. After a few minutes, she began to cry...scream. This lasted an hour before she fell asleep. There was nothing I could do to comfort her. I was a foreigner, a stranger, and she wanted no part of me...These were my first thoughts of how my daughter felt about me. It was difficult, but I felt some comfort when she fell asleep in my arms.

Tuesday, I got to take Belen back to the guest house. She cried and screamed all day and night. Mom and I knew she was scared, but we also knew it was much more than fear that overwhelmed her. She was sick. We knew she was running a high fever and screamed every time she sipped her bottle. She didn't eat for at least 17 hours; Mom and I assumed it had been much longer. Early Wednesday morning, my baby girl had become lifeless. Fear is not an adequate word that would describe how I felt. That morning I had one of the directors take us to get immediate medical attention for Belen. The clinic was something that I would picture in a movie. The power was off, sanitary was not a word that came to my mind, and the room was full of many. Shame on me for not having respectful thoughts. Even with so many sick people, Belen was taken back for care immediately (for reasons I am still unclear about). The physician was quick was his assessment. He said Belen was a very sick little girl; She was severely malnourished which magnified her chicken pox, she had pneumonia, a throat infection, thrush, and an ear infection. The doctor was truly God-sent. He had Belen on several different medications. By Friday, she was beginning to feel better. Thank God for that little clinic.

Belen is doing incredibly well. She is a vibrant, spirited child who loves to smile and lets me know I am too slow in getting her bottles ready. She is sweet and loving but not passive. My dad says she has my temperament...hhhmmmm! Okay, we may have some conflicts during her teenage years. I can't wait.

After a complete whirlwind these past couple of weeks, I finally heard the stillness this evening. Belen was sitting on my lap, playing and chattering, and I began to weep and couldn't stop. I was holding MY child...the one I longed for, at times mourned over not having. I realized I was holding in my arms God's promise. He didn't give me a child; He gave me my child.

Sorry it has gone long, especially since I didn't attach pictures. I have been typing one handed this entire post, because baby girl is asleep in my arms. What a wonderful feeling though.

Monday, August 24, 2009

3 Days to Departure!!!

My mom and I will fly out this Thursday. I have listed our schedule in case you want to follow along daily and most importantly, pray for specific needs each day.

*Thursday- Leave Springfield airport to fly into Memphis
Fly out of Memphis into Amsterdam
*Friday- Spend the night in Amsterdam
*Saturday- Fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the morning
Reach Addis that night
*Sunday- Rest
-I get to meet my daughter for the first time!
-I will also have a lot of paperwork to do in the morning before seeing Belen
*Tuesday- GOTCHA DAY
-My baby girl is forever mine! She will go back to the guest house w/ us.
*Wednesday- U.S. Consulate Appointment
*Thursday- Visit Belen's family (still pending) or the orphanages
*Friday- Receive Belen's paperwork and Shop
*Saturday- Sight-see
Fly out Saturday night (almost 35 hrs. w/ flights and layovers)
*Sunday- Fly into Springfield airport at 8:52 p.m.!!

If you are having a difficult time calculating travel times, that is because Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us in Missouri.