Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweet Amelia

Something is wrong with blogger this morning -- I can't upload images.  Not that I'm allowed to post images of Amelia anyway, and that's who I wanted to tell you about. 

Two sweet mamas from my home town of Birmingham are currently in Uganda to bring home their sweet babies. I have never met Michelle and Toria in person, but that have shown me so much love by sending updates on our Amelia. (As has another sweet mama from California who is also in Uganda.) On Saturday, we recieved the most precious pictures of her with braids that looked a bit like a mowhawk!! She is so stunningly beautiful, and it makes my heart soar to see her with bright eyes and a smile.

We hear that she is a happy girl. I have taught Caroline to thank Jesus for this every night.  Not every baby fares well in even the best group home. Many of these children are having a hard time. Please pray for these babies!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Photo Book

This weekend, I made a gift for Caroline on Snapfish.com – a 20 page photo “story book” about !  Caroline melts when she sees pictures of her little sister. I can’t wait for our order to come in the mail!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Phew!

Ever had one of those weeks when you can't seem to keep your head above water?


That's me this week!  BUT I will press "pause" on my to-do list long enough to tell you that

  • we keep recieving wonderful updates on Amelia from the sweet Mama's who are in Uganda with her while getting their own babies, and I have never been more thankful for the thoughtfulness of others;

  • I'm praying like mad for the two babies in Amelia's orphanage who seem to emotionally REALLY need their forever families, yet their parents aren't there yet;

  • if you've written me an email lately, I'll probably write you back/call you on Saturday!

  • I haven't visited my Google Reader all week and realized from withdrawals that I am truly addicted to blogs! And

  • I will get back to posting regularly very soon!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Amelia!

Today, I got sweet updates on Amelia from the two Birmingham, AL mamas who are IN UGANDA at Amelia's home right now, trying to get their own babies home!  Oh, my heart is so full! For one thing, she is feeling much better after being sick.  I even got a (close to) "real time" picture of her preciousness -- do you know how sweet it is to be POSITIVE that a picture was taken of your child as recently as possible?  I am overjoyed...

By the way, that baby has the longest eyelashes I have ever seen! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Amelia Update!

We received recent updates and photos of Amelia yesterday! Oh, she is a beautiful girl. How am I so blessed to call her mine? (And she IS mine in an emotional sense, even though there is nothing legally binding in that yet!) So why do I feel like the breath was knocked out of me?

Why am I sad?

Well, she’s changed. Since the last photos we saw, she’s gotten older, and more agile, and has longer hair and limbs.

There is nothing natural about watching your child’s development through photographs. I should be there. We should be together.

While she appears healthy, her height vs. weight numbers suggest that she is quite the string bean. Furthermore, she is dehydrated right now from diaherrea. As a mama, I want to go straight to her with all of the formula, hugs, and cuddles in the world. I realize she is in good care. I realize that she is loved. But I want to be there for her!

Please pray for her health… and for our patience! God’s timing IS perfect. We are just too finite to see it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Joyful in Hope

A couple of dear families from our agency have their first court dates in Uganda tomorrow!!! Oh, how I am excited for them! Please pray for God's will and favor.  It is so exciting to see real MOVEMENT in the adoptions of families so similar to ours.  It makes it easy for us to be JOYFUL in our hopes to bring Amelia home soon!

"Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer."
-Romans 12:12

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ouch


Ouch.
And... yay!
We only have one more round of immunizations before we'll be ready to travel to get our sweet Amelia!

If you're wondering what we WON'T catch while we travel, here's the short list:
  • yellow fever
  • malaria
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • measles
  • mumps
  • rubella
  • tetnus
  • and more!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crunch

I had so much fun posting a "series" recently that I neglected a few personal items.  Like the fact that my car is totaled.  I am so thankful that Caroline wasn't in the car.  The other car slammed straight into her door!  Can you see her car seat under the shattered glass?

We were able to use insurance proceeds to buy a silver 1999 Acura... so I am VERY thankful that the wreck did not negatively impact our adoption funds. In fact, we were able to add a tiny bit to them!  (a huge relief, since we still do not know where some of the finances will come from!)

Now... if only I could get my ribs and back to stop hurting!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane


This is one of the most exciting weeks of the adoption process so far... some of the families who are also adopting through our agency leave for Uganda!!  This is the first group of families who I feel like I've gotten to know and love on some level.  I can't wait to hear from them as they go to court, and meet their little ones, and hopefully even get to love on Amelia and tell me a little bit about our own baby girl.

It feels like PROGRESS. Ahhh!

I can't wait to hear about some happy endings for these families I have grown to pray for and love.  God has some beautiful stories planned, I think!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Amelia's Song; Hallelujah in the Wait

My heart is singing a lullaby in minor key.  It never stops.  It is the song of my heart as we wait to adopt Amelia.  While it's sound is mournful, it's only lyric is one of praise: "Hallelujah." 

We trust God in this wait.  We praise Him for it.  He is taking His time to compose a symphony.  A beautiful song, like a meaningful life story, takes time to build up to its masterful climax.

Amelia's song is not some cheap commercial jingle.  It is a part of God's Magnum Opus.  In minor key and in major, we praise our great Composer.

We wait for Amelia, but ultimately, we wait for our God.  We long for our daughter, but above all, we ache to see the beauty of our Creator through the song that He writes with her life.

We are in love with a daughter we have not touched, and a Father we have not seen.  But make no mistake -- they are both real, and they are both the cry of our hearts.

And with outstretched arms
I will sing a melody
And my beating heart
Will pour out a symphony
Hallelujahs in the morning
Hallelujahs in the night
I will wait for You
As long as I have life
If you'd like to hear the song that inspired this post -- the song that has become the voice of my heart in this adoption -- then click below.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

HIV Series

Some people have emailed or left comments asking whether they can link to my HIV/AIDS series. Please do!  The reason I wrote it was to get the word out.  Any information I posted came through the kind help and wise advice of moms, doctors, and writers who know far more than I do.  It is not my information.  Pass it on.  I pray that hearts are changed, and that we are motivated to act in the love of Christ.

Set Me Free

People walk around
pushing back their debts;
wearing pay checks
like necklaces and bracelets;

Talking ‘bout nothing,
not thinking ‘bout death,
Every little heartbeat,
every little breath.

People walk a tight rope
on a razors edge
Carrying their hurt and
hatred and weapons.

It could be a bomb or
a bullet or a pen
Or a thought or a word
or a sentence.

There ain't no reason
things are this way.
It's how they always been
and they intend to stay
I don’t know why
I say the things I say,
but I say them anyway.

But love will come set me free

Love will come set me free,
I do believe
Love will come set me free,
I know it will
Love will come set me free,
yes.
-Brett Dennen

Whoever does not love
does not know God,
because God is love.
- 1 John 4:8

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kampala in November


Still praying that we travel to Kampala in November, and checking out the weather there then.
 
 
 
Avg Low:   64
Avg High:  86
Avg Rain:  3.51 inches in November
 
The weather looks a lot more bearable than an Alabama summer! Of course, I'm doubting we'll have this nice A/C that I'm enjoying right now!
 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Few Random Facts

Facts about the manageability of caring for those with HIV:
  • HIV is now considered a chronic illness, rather than a terminal disease.
  • HIV+ individuals who are receiving treatment can live INDEFINITELY without developing AIDS.
  • HIV+ individuals who have access to treatment can live close to normal life expectancies.
  • HIV+ children can grow up, get married, have babies, etc. 
  • With prevention medication, HIV+ mothers do not have to pass the virus along to their biological children.  (However, one article said that they should not breastfeed. -- if this is no longer the case, please correct me!)
    • The HIV specialist we met with has actually testified in court that it was medical malpractice when an HIV+ mother in the U.S. did pass HIV along to her baby.  She did not know she was HIV+, but it is now U.S. law that all OBGYN's test all pregnant mothers' blood for HIV, because when HIV+ mothers are medicated, transmission to the baby should never happen.
  • With treatment, HIV levels can become so low that they are undetectable.
  • HIV will NOT be passed to family members, unless there is direct blood to blood contact, one of the other few ways HIV can be spread.
  • HIV can ONLY be spread through:
    • pregnancy,
    • birth,
    • breast milk,
    • sexual activity that mixes blood, semen, and/or vaginal fluid, and through
    • blood to blood contact.
  • HIV can NOT be spread through:
    • sharing food, drinks, utensils, or dishes,
    • changing diapers, or touching
      • urine
      • stool
      • mucous
      • tears
      • sweat
    • sharing a swimming pool or bath tub
    • mosquito bites
    • sharing classroom or office space
    • contact sports, fighting, playing
  • Treatment for HIV+ children usually requires pills twice a day.  It also requires 4 appointments with an infectious disease specialist each year.
Facts about how deadly HIV/AIDS is worldwide, where proper treatment is not usually available:
  • There is no vaccine and no cure for HIV/AIDS.
  • Without treatment, HIV becomes AIDS and leads to certain death.
  • 40.3 million live with HIV/AIDS worldwide. 
    • The overwhelming majority of these people live in resource-poor countries.
    • 1/3 of the are between the ages of 15-24
  • As of December 2002, over half a million people in the U.S. alone had died of AIDS. 
  • AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981- more than four Jewish holocausts or 22 Rwandan genocides
  • In 2005, every MINUTE there were 10 newly infected people worldwide.
  • Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans
  • 43% of those infected with HIV are women.
Some links for you:

This concludes my series on HIV.  Now you know.  GO DO SOMETHING!
 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Part 5: What to Do, Now that You Know

If you haven’t been reading my series on HIV, I’d love for you to start reading at the beginning. For those of you who have been reading it, then I hope you agree when I say that the HIV topic has been convoluted by fear and lies for far too many years.

I've titled this post, "What to Do, Now That You Know."  You may be saying, "Sure, I read the whole series so far, but what do I know? I don't know anything."  True, I haven't covered much. I hope my list of facts tomorrow will help.  But here is what you do know:  HIV is not what you think it is.  That is enough to cause you to do your own research.  Make sure your sources are current. You will be surprised.  The disease we labled in the 1980's as a roaring lion has been tamed into a sleeping kitten.  With medication, that is.  For those who have little access to medical care, AIDS is still a horrific mass murderer.

Here is the most important thing that you know:  God loves everyone who is affected by HIV, and God will lovingly empower you to help when you step out in faith. As God’s children, it is time for us to act.

Here are my ideas:
  • Pray about whether you should adopt a child with HIV. For every reassurance I’ve given you about how manageable HIV is under proper medical care, I can counter it by the deaths caused by untreated AIDS. Parenting an HIV+ child means saving a life.

  • Advocate against the HIV/AIDS stigma.

  • Find the closest HIV clinic and ask if they need help counseling patients. When we met with the patient advocate at our local infectious disease clinic, we asked her whether she ever had patients die anymore. She said yes. But it was not for lack of medical care. It was because adults who contract HIV only know the 1980’s doom and gloom version of the "facts." Often times, patients become so depressed after diagnosis that they never rebound. They never hear the hope. And so they never take their medicines. It is like a slow suicide. Ask if you can minister to these precious souls.

  • Show love to a family affected by HIV. Don't buy into the stigma.  These families are safe, and worthy, and often the most incredible people you could be blessed enough to know.  And remember, children with HIV are not a threat to your children.  (stats to come tomorrow)

  • Find an organization that fights AIDS globally, and support it. Countless groups bring HIV medications into 3rd world countries, or counsel pregnant mothers on how to avoid passing HIV to their children, or work for AIDS prevention, or encourage doubtful patients to take their medication. Join their teams. Financially support them. Volunteer with them.

  • Adopt a child orphaned by AIDS, which may not necessarily mean that the child is infected with HIV.

You’re smart. You’re creative. Perhaps you can come up with more ideas than what I have listed here.

When Christians meet needs, we are living out the Gospel. Christ is the ultimate solution to our every problem. Whenever we can be a solution – whenever we can be love – then we are a walking, breathing analogy of the ultimate Solution and Love offered through the Cross of Jesus.

This is pretty much the end of my series, other than a bullet point post tomorrow with surprising facts and figures. Please act. Be the Love of Christ.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Part 4: Talking to Mothers of HIV+ Children

I hope my point is clear: The worst part of properly treated HIV is the STIGMA. That’s it, and that’s all.

In the 1980’s, AIDS was a monster. We didn’t understand it. Since then, modern medicine has opened doors. HIV patients under proper medical care live normal lives, marry, and get pregnant without passing anything to their children. Infectious disease doctors proved that treated HIV is not a threat to dentists, classmates, teammates, or coworkers. On this basis, lawmakers said that HIV patients never have to disclose their HIV status to anyone.

As Brad and I spoke to the parents of HIV+ children, we heard the same story again and again. “Medically speaking, caring for our child’s HIV is the easiest thing we have going. The hardest part is the stigma.”

Some families keep HIV status private. One mother explained to me that she did not want her little one to carry the burden of being an HIV/AIDS poster child. “Sure, people will think that my husband and I are heroes. They will think we’ve done something so selfless, and so brave,” she said. “But then our child is left being the leper. Our child is the one who has to live with the stigma. If we tell, then we’re making ourselves out to be heroes, and heaping a major burden on our child.”

Some families choose to be open about their child’s HIV+ status. The child did nothing wrong to contract HIV, and should not have to carry a secret. They say that the HIV stigma will only subside when families openly and fearlessly show the world that there is nothing to fear. They face the stigma, knowing that God will get all of the glory.

The reaction to those families who are open about HIV is mixed. I heard stories of grandparents who opened their arms, and of church nurseries who closed their doors. I heard of compassionate doctors who helped, and unknowledgeable nurses who fled. Again and again, I heard stories of hesitant friends who came around after proper education.

The stigma is so pointless. So hurtful.  And this is why I am speaking out today. Many families are affected by HIV. Yet not all of them can be the advocates that they’d like to be without their children being “uninvited” from sleep overs, or feared at the church nursery, or banned from the baseball team.

So now what? What should we do with our knowledge about HIV? Tomorrow, I’ll talk about our Christian responsibility. Let’s act.



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Part 3: The Stigma is a Lie (& Satan is the Liar)

As I wondered whether we should pursue adopting an HIV+ child, the kinks in the Ugandan process began to fix themselves. We were on track to adopt a healthy baby as originally planned. But something about HIV kept tugging at my heart. So Brad and I began a research blitz, quickly exhausting every possible resource… after all, we would soon be matched with a healthy child. Any decisions to change route would have to be fast.

Brad and I corresponded with a large handful of parents to HIV+ children over email and phone. We read medical articles, blogs, and websites. We made appointments and visited doctors specializing in HIV and infectious disease.


What we found was this: Medically speaking, taking care of an HIV+ child in the U.S. is incredibly manageable.

I am not trivializing the disease. Without care, HIV becomes AIDS and leads to certain death. But, wonder of all wonders, in the U.S., properly treated HIV no longer leads to death. It doesn’t even lead to a restricted life style. It doesn’t put siblings or parents in danger of contamination. In fact, the HIV specialist we saw told us that he would PREFER HIS CHILDREN to have HIV over diabetes! Talk about a shocker. This quote from Reuters makes the same point:
"HIV/AIDS still carries a terrible stigma when in fact it's a condition more manageable than diabetes - more easily treated, and more easily avoidable."

What was the only scary word in the quote above? STIGMA.

Stigma, stigma, stigma.

You see, Satan loves HIV/AIDS.  It doesn't matter that it is this incredibly wimpy virus that can't survive long outside of the body. Satan doesn't care the modern medicines kick HIV's tail until it's untraceable in its victim. 

Satan is a liar. 

We think of AIDS, and we think of immorality, or homosexuality, or promiscuity, or drugs, etc.  We forget to think of PEOPLE.  We see images of AIDS victims suffering terrible deaths all over the world.  These very images, which God would use to stir our compassion and cause our ACTION, Satan instead uses to awaken our fear and cause our INACTION.

And the irony is that perhaps the most feared disease in the U.S. is also very manageable.  Very wimpy. 

Of all of the special needs God may call us to with adoption, HIV is probably the EASIEST one to deal with.  It requires pills twice a day.  Four check-ups a year.  Once under control, it should stay under control. It does not put the rest of your family in danger.  Some mothers explain that their HIV+ children get sick LESS OFTEN than the rest, because their medicines are so effective at strengthening the immune system.

For very little difficulty, you could save a life. We could save a life.

These are the facts.  At the end of this series, I will give you a bullet-point list of HIV/AIDS facts that will blow your mind.  But behind the facts, and more important than the facts, are the children.  Tomorrow, we will talk to the mothers of children affected by HIV.  These sweet ones are not worried about their virus.  If there is ever a worry, then it is about the STIGMA.  Please read on.  Let's expose Satan's lies.