Monday, December 31, 2007

9 Months Home

I can hardly believe that it has been 9 months since Yosef and Mihret came home to our family from Ethiopia. We just celebrated our first Christmas together. It's also been exactly 1 year since I first met them when I visited them in the orphanage last Christmas. What a year!

I can truthfully say that things are very good now. We struggled quite a bit at first, especially with Yosef. But things are getting better and better all the time. There are still a few days here and there when he's quite difficult. But overall, we're on a steady uphill climb with him, which is good. God has been most faithful to show us how to handle each thing as it comes our way.

People ask me all the time if our four kids fight. Of course they do! I think we'd be quite abnormal if they didn't! And when they're not fighting, they're the best of friends. What more could a mother ask for? :)

Yosef: Yosef is in grade 4 and is 10 (maybe?!?!) years old. He's struggled quite a bit with school. Part of that is due to language and adjustment. But part of it is because he doesn't like to study. We haven't pressured him too much about his grades because we do know that it will take lots of time academically. But, once we go back to school after our Christmas break, we will start making him spend time just studying his work. He is smart and capable, but he will have to work very hard.

We're going to change him to a different 4th grade class as well. One thing that has been difficult about school is that we're in a very low income school. Honestly, I believe it to be the best in our area as far as the quality of instruction that takes place. That is why I applied for a job there. But there's such a spirit of poverty over this place and along with that also comes a very devalued emphasis on education. There is a very disrespectful attitude amongst most of the students at the school that is simply carried over from their home lives. When I see the interactions between students and their families it is no wonder to me that they act the way they do at school. My Yosef has begun to adopt just such an attitude as well. He didn't make very wise choices for friends. His classmates were totally intrigued with him and his accent. The most problematic students chose him as their friend and being new, he went along. He never actually gets in trouble at school and is one of the best behaved in his class. But I see a rebellious spirit taking root in his little heart that is going to spell big trouble in a few years if we don't get it under control now. When we talked with him about the influence his friends were having over him, it was actually his idea to change classes so that he could choose good friends. Please pray for him in this transition.

We have been extremely consistent in not allowing him to treat us disrespectfully. Our consistency is definitely paying off. When he is disrespectful, he is much easier to correct and much faster to respond to our correction than at first. This morning he shot me an ugly look where he furrowed up his eyebrows at me like I was an idiot for telling him no. Avery took him upstairs, told him he couldn't come down until he apologized nicely to me. It only took him about 10 minutes before he humbly came to me and whispered an apology in my ear and gave me a sincere hug. He really is a good kid. He has just had no discipline in his tumultuous little life. We only have these little episodes just a few times a week now.

Since I've never had a 10 year old boy before, I think that maybe these issues aren't entirely adoption related. My friends with kids this age keep telling me that they have the same issues. Who knows? I'm figuring this mother thing out one day at a time!

Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn is 7 and in 2nd grade. She gets totally fed up with having a sister and says mean things to her. Then 10 minutes later, she's so in love with her little sister that nothing could separate them. I think that's normal???? She's making all A's at school and is well- liked. I worried about her at first, as she is one of just a few white kids at the school. But I honestly don't think she's really noticed this. She knows that most everybody is black and Hispanic. But she's still at an innocent age where the kids all play together. She has black and hispanic friends. The innocence of these children is priceless. I pray that she doesn't lose this over the next couple of years. I've noticed that Yosef's 4th grade class is very much divided along the lines of race. But in 2nd grade, they're still so uncorrupted.

Having been our oldest before the adoption, Kaitlyn is now 2nd in line following Yosef. For some kids, losing their place as oldest is a huge problem. But this has not really been a problem for Kaitlyn. Perhaps it will be later. But not so far. I've talked with her about this issue a few times and she honestly seems okay.

Mihret: Mihret is at the absolute top of her 1st grade class. She turns 7 in a few weeks (or maybe 8????). The funny thing about international adoption is that it's hard to really be sure of an age sometimes. That's the case with our kids. Mihret is making all A's and is so proud of herself. She is very much attached to our family, and has been from the start. She's very good and very easy to correct. She's just very good and very sweet. She positively lights up a room with her eyes and her giggle. I've gotten quite good at braiding her hair too. All I can tell mothers is to practice. The only way to get good is to just do it, even if it takes a long time at first. Once you get it, it's so worth it.

Lucas: Lucas turns 6 years old today! My baby!!!! He's making all A's in Kindergarten, operating on a 1st grade level. He's so good at school and his teachers are completely in love with him. He's still the baby of the family. It's a good thing he has a big brother who takes such good care of him. Yosef really is so good to Lucas. It's very sweet to walk into a room and discover them playing with their arms around each other.

Lucas' burns are continuing to heal. I have to take him to a plastic surgeon in a few weeks for consultation on his shoulder. The scar is becoming quite thick and limiting his mobility in his shoulder. It will continue to heal for at least 6 more months, so seeing the plastic surgeon is merely so that he can monitor the progress and be familiar with the case while he heals. We are praying that God will heal the scar in such a way that no surgery will be required. Honestly, I am praying for the impossible. I am asking God to give Lucas new skin in place of his scar. I am completely convinced that this is how God wants me to pray. I'm not convinced yet that this is what God will do, but I am praying as I believe I ought to. I'm also fasting by drinking nothing but water. I feel that God has asked me to continue this fast until Lucas is healed, or until I sense God releasing me from this commitment. All I can do is obey what I feel God is requiring of me. Lucas has been so incredibly brave throughout this entire thing. He hasn't lost one bit of his charm either.

Me: Let's just say that the lack of posts on my blog is a direct result of being a working mother of four children. Teaching is so very difficult anyway. This is a school where there are very real inner-city problems. This entire area where we live is laden with the problems of gangs and drugs and race plays a main factor in all of this. I very much want God to move us to a new place. Mind you, I would be sad beyond words to leave some of the very dear friends He has given me. But I really want God to move us for the sake of our children. I do not pretend for even a moment to know what is best for our family in this situation. But this is my desire. Honestly, my desire is for God to move us to Africa on the mission field. But this is not something we're currently pursuing. Just praying. I think we're going to put our house on the market again in the spring to see if we can sell it. We tried with no success for over 2 years to sell it. If it sells, we'll see where God takes us after that. Until then, I am content to trust God's plan for us here.

I am basically very tired by the time the kids go to bed at night. I usually spend some time with Avery, then go to bed by 8:00PM. I feel like a little kid! I am up by 4:45 AM though and I am one of those people who absolutely needs adequate sleep to function well. The thing I like most about my job is that I get to be at the school with my kids. I am seriously so very thankful for this. Though I'm tired at the end of the day, I'm so glad that they're right there waiting for me with a hug and a kiss. I love them so very much. I love them more each day. God has blessed me beyond comprehension with this little family. I get so much joy from having the chance to mother them. God has been very good to me.

So, in a nutshell, things are good. 6 months ago, it was hard for me to believe that things would settle down the way they have. Especially with Yosef. But now, our family feels very normal....I think I might be the only person who knows us who would describe us as normal! :)

I'm currently on day 1 of a yucky sick, cold, congested, fever, weakness, muscle fatigue, diarrhea kind of illness. Perhaps I'll post pictures before I return to school following our winter break. I hope!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

7 Months Home- Update

Yosef and Mihret have been home with our family for 7 months now! It's funny how sloooowwwwlllyyy time crept by during out 18 months of waiting for them and how quickly time is passing now that our heart's desire has been granted. During our awful wait for them to come home, my heart was more broken than anything I'd ever experienced. But even in the midst of it, I knew that I would look back with thankfulness for the things God was showing me. Sure enough. While it was not something that I ever want to go through again, I am thankful that God allowed it. Like all things in life, that time shaped me tremendously. It shaped our entire family tremendously, including Yosef and Mihret. But, thank God it's over!!!

So, how are things really going 7 months after?????? Really really good! As I indicated in my 5 month post, things were going well considering how much transition we were in. But they were difficult. Now, I can honestly say that things are going so incredibly well. So many families told us that it would take 5-6 months for the dust to really truly settle so that we could feel like a normal family. That was right on target for us as well. Right around 5 months, things took a turn for the better, especially with Yosef.

Yosef was the most difficult of the four to help adjust. When school started, it really seemed to interrupt the bonding that had begun to take place, particularly between him and me. I was starting my job as a teacher, so I had to go to work for two weeks before he started school, while I left the four kids with a babysitter. During that time, he became sooooo moody and would get angry with me for days on end with absolutely no catalyst that I could see. His mood would just suddenly shift for no apparent reason. He would ignore me for days and refuse to look at me or touch me or talk to me. I kept telling myself to just be patient, that this was normal, that it would get better, that it was my responsibility to love him and care for him unconditionally even if things didn't get better.

Right after I wrote my 5 month post, things took a turn for the worst! He started getting really really angry with me and would refuse to talk to me. It was seriously as though I didn't exist unless he needed food or clothing. Even then he would barely acknowledge me. It wasn't as though I had punished him or asked him to do something he didn't like. It seriously happened for absolutely no tangible reason. It was evident that he had either consciously or subconsciously made the decision that while he liked me, he absolutely would not bond with me or accept me as his mother. It was evident to Avery and me and also to those who are close to us and saw our family interacting. What made it worse is that he could be in the worst mood you've ever seen just because I was present in the same room with him. But the moment somebody he liked came along, he was all smiles as though it was the best day of his entire life. As soon as that person left, the thundercloud returned. The moodiness was very much targeted directly at me and very much not at other people. I couldn't help but to start feeling a little bit hurt by all of this since I was so much on the receiving end. The only time that anybody other than me received this from him would be when Avery put his foot down and made him stop talking so ugly to Mom. Then he would be mad at Avery too. Which really was just about being mad at Mom!

So, we began to pray for direction from God. As I prayed, I realized that there was an issue of misplaced boundaries in my relationship with him. Every healthy relationship needs to be part give and part take. Even parent/child relationships. However, in my relationship with Yosef, I was the one doing all of the giving and he was doing all of the taking. I took care of his every need because I am his mother and I love him. I made sure he was cared for and comfortable in every aspect. My hope was that he would feel loved and safe and that my mothering of him would let him know that he could love me back as his mother. But it just wasn't happening. Instead, he was reaping all of the benefits of having a mother, even unconditional love. But he was accepting zero responsibility to be an active participant in that relationship. The more I showed him love, the more he was pulling away in increasing measures.

So, the problem that God helped me to see was that Yosef was the person in our relationship who was refusing to participate, but I was the one reaping all of the consequences from that decision while he continued to reap all of the benefits of having a mother. It became very clear to me that we needed to find a means so that he would be the one to experience the consequences from not participating in this relationship. And honestly, it was an issue of not participating in our family as well because wherever I was involved, he was not. So, if we were doing a family thing, he was present, but with a thundercloud hovering over his head. I knew that the boundaries needed to be shifted so that the consequences that I had to deal with would be transferred to him since he was the one making a decision that I had no control over. So, we prayed some more.

This is what we came up with. It seems horrible to some. But it was what we really felt God telling us to do. And our social worker thought it was a great idea too. She said that when she used to work in a group home for troubled kids, it's exactly what they used to do with them. We decided that the area where Yosef would feel the biggest consequence would be in his TV and computer time. So, the consequence for not being nice to Mom was that he could not use the TV or computer. The reward for being nice to Mom is that he could use those things. The TV and computer now operated on a point system. He had to have 15 points to use the TV or computer for 30 minutes. Or, if the family was watching a movie, 15 points would buy him an entire movie. Each time he was actively nice to Mom by his own initiative, he earned 1 point. Each time he responded nicely to Mom's initiative, he earned 1 point.

So, we wrote out 6 ways that he could be nice to Mom in order to earn a point. Also, we explained that when Mom hugged him and he hugged back, he could earn a point. When Mom talked to him and he responded nicely, he could earn a point. etc. At first, he was so mad about this system that he wouldn't even read the paper. Then, he was missing his TV and computer, so he read it, but he refused to participate. For a couple of days, he just chose to go outside while the other kids watched TV. On a Saturday, we announced that we were going to have a family movie night that evening, which all of the kids love. But Yosef could only watch if he had 15 points. It was 5:00 that evening and he still didn't have a single point. I had even tried to orchestrate times in which he could be nice, but he would not. The other kids were telling him nice things he could do, but he would not. We were at a mini-golf range and he had an incredibly large thundercloud following him around because he knew that the movie was going to start when we got home and he still didn't have a single point. All of a sudden, when he thought nobody was looking, he picked up my golf ball and moved it closer to the hole where I would have a straight shot. The cute little guy was showing me love by cheating for me at mini golf! Forget the ethics of not cheating. He got a point! (And we told him he couldn't cheat anymore!)

He wanted to watch the movie badly enough that he earned all 15 points by the time we got home. He was completely insincere in his displays of love toward me. But I really believed that if he would just open himself up to the possibility of truly attaching to me that things would change. Even if his "love" was insincere at first and motivated purely by TV and computer. Things continued on like this for a couple of weeks with Yosef constantly keeping track of his points and doing things for me purely for the purpose of earning a point. Conversations went like this:

Yosef: "I love you Mom."
Me: "I love you too Yosef."
Yosef: "I have another point!"

We really questioned whether this was a good system or not! It didn't really seem to be working. There was no true attachment going on. The "love" was completely motivated by a desire for TV and computer. But we felt like this was the strategy God had given us, so we continued.

After about 3 weeks, Yosef started to do nice things without thinking about it and he would forget to keep track of his points. I did not forget though. I always pointed out when he earned another point because I wanted him to see when he had done something good and also to get the reward. A couple more weeks went by and a real emotional bond was beginning to form. The point system had become more of a game. And the affection was real. He was no longer ignoring me as though I was invisible. He was starting to really bond with me. Right now, I can honestly say that he is well into attaching to me. It has created so much more peace and normality in our entire family.

Attachment really does happen on a continuum. It happens that way with all people, not just adopted children. The longer we walk in relationship with somebody, the more attached we become. Yosef really lights up my heart now. I was helping him with homework last week and he just stood there resting his hand on my leg with his arm around me the entire time, so naturally and so relaxed. Just two months ago, his whole little self would go completely rigid at even the suggestion of having to touch me! We talk now. As in, he talks too. In real conversations. Not just Yosef responding with a yes or no to my talking. And he's nice to me. He doesn't get into these moods that last for days at a time where he won't even look at me.

There is still work to be done. But it doesn't feel like fighting an uphill battle now. We're working on attachment with a willing participant now. This is just one more time when God has been so incredibly faithful to our family.

Mihret continues to do quite well with relatively few problems. She's been attached to us from the beginning and continues to progress on that continuum I wrote about. Kaitlyn and Lucas also continue to do well with a new brother and sister. All four of them are begging us to adopt again, which I think is a good sign!

Lucas still continues to heal from his burn. The scar on his right arm is continuing to form and he is losing some mobility in his shoulder. However, we continue to do the massage therapy where we have to apply pressure to the scar and rub it with lotion three times each day. The hope is that doing this will break down the fibers in the scar as it forms so that it will not be a highly knotty scar that burn victims so often have, which is the cause of his lost mobility. So far, the therapy is not working. But we continue to do it. Please pray for Lucas, as this is quite painful for him. But it has to be done. The doctor has ordered him a special shirt that he will wear everyday. It will squeeze his burn very tightly, putting constant pressure on those fibers as the scar forms. Also, he will be wearing a sheet of medical grade silicone underneath that shirt. There is no medical explanation, but many patients see significant reduction in scar tissue when silicone treatment is used. Most of the burn on his back continues to regenerate actual skin. It still doesn't exactly look like skin. But it takes up to a year for a burn patient to grow new skin. The outside edges of the skin on his back truly look like skin again. God's healing is so evident in this little guy.

Emotionally, Lucas has really handled his burn so well. The burn on his arm and shoulder sometimes shows when he wears his school uniform. But I discovered this week that Lucas isn't bothered when the kids in his class ask about why his skin looks like that. He told them that it is a monster alien that lives on his shoulder to survive and in turn, gives him super powers. He thinks he's hysterical. Sometimes, he pulls his sleeve up just a little bit so that he can scare one of the boys in his class with his monster alien. He did tell me last night when I was rubbing it that he hopes God will heal it and make it all gone though. We continue to pray for him with the faith of our 5-year-old as an example of what real faith looks like.

Yosef, Lucas, and Mihret are all on a YMCA soccer team and are all real stars on their team. Yosef has really caught the attention of so many people. This kid is seriously really good. We've had two challenge team coaches talk to us to recruit him. Now is definitely not the time, as he still is struggling so much in school. But, the kid really does show real promise in soccer.

Well, this post must end, as it is nearly 8:00AM and I hear four little people out of their beds....possibly destroying the upstairs of our house from the sounds of things!

Friday, August 31, 2007

5 Months Home!

We have been home with Yosef and Mihret for five months now, and quite honestly, things are going much better than I expected. This is not to say that we have not gone through lots of difficult adjustment, and continue to go through it. But, I was prepared for things to be much harder. All four kids have really settled into their positions/roles in our new little family. Kaitlyn is absolutely thriving, moreso than ever before. Lucas is still very much the baby of the family. For a while, that was really tough, as Mihret is the baby of her family and I had two babies fighting for that position. But alas, Mihret has decided she would rather be my big girl, my sweet girl, and my little helper.

Mihret has done wonderfully with bonding with all of us. She went through a short time where she was really grieving her Ethiopian Mommy. But in her grief, she reached out for me to comfort her. Poor darling asked me one night why I never let her call her Ethiopia Mommy on the telephone like I do her Ethiopia Grandmother. Confused, I told her that her mommy had died ( a fact that she knows all too well). She said, "Yes, but why you not let me call her?" That's when I realized that she just assummed that there are telephones in Heaven! I explained that there are not phones in Heaven, but I really don't think she believed me! :)

Yosef has struggled the most, as would be expected since he is older. We have had some very difficult days and weeks with him. And yet, things are not as bad as they could be. We continue to pray, asking God to enable us to take care of this little guy. And quite honestly, God has been very faithful to help us to know what to do at just the right moments. We've been very blessed to know what strategies will work with him to help guide him through these uncharted waters. Also, school started 6 weeks ago and he has really struggled, as I expected. We have placed him in fourth grade. While he is older than his classmates, he is the same size and fits in quite well. All of teachers and kids absolutely love him. He can be very charming! But he struggles accademically. He does try very hard though. He always does all of his work and has very good behvior for his teacher, so we are very proud of him. His English is getting better and better, so I know that he will not struggle forever. Oh yea, we go to a performing and visual arts school, so he's decided to learn to play drums! My poor ears! :)

Mihret is doing quite well in school. She is actually at the top of her class in first grade! Her teacher is such an incredible blessing. She is South African and has a daughter who was Mihret's age when she came to the US. So, she has lots of compassion and understanding for what this transition is like. Also, she feels such an affinity with Mihret, calling her "my little African sister." Though she did have to send Mihret to my classroom to calm down yesterday. It seems that the kids tried to tell the teacher that she is "African American" because she is brown like them. The teacher said that not all brown people are African American and that she is just plain "African" because she is from Africa. The children argued with her. Mihret chimed in saying that, "No! Mrs. Jita is African, just like ME!" The kids argued with her and Mihret yelled at them, then started crying because she was so mad at them! She's very proud to be African, and I know this has been reinforced by having an African teacher. I'm actually quite glad for this. But geesh! She's awfully tiny and quiet to have gotten so feisty!

Lucas loves school and continues to heal from his burns. He doesn't go back to the burn center until October. The large scar on his lower back is leaving very minimal scaring. The tissues continue to regenerate, and I think that it is actually going to be mostly skin, not a scar, though it may not have any pigment to it. The large and most sever burn on his shoulder is developing a very thick, pitted scar. The kid is taking it so well though! Where some might feel ugly or self conscious, Lucas feels quite proud of his scar. You see, through his shirt, he feels that the raised appearance makes him look like he has a really big muscle that will enable him to kill a bear! He's so cute. :)

Kaitlyn is thriving at this arts school. She is the main reason I wanted to teach here. This is so up her alley. Her little creative heart is being so nurtured and encouraged and instructed here. She's doing so well in all of her subjects minus the frustration of being forced to shut off her creative side.

Life is certainlyl busy and tiring when you're a working Mom, as many of you already know from experience. But we are getting the hang of it, slowly.

I leave you with some pics! Enjoy!

Friends at the Fourth of July!

Yosef taking good care of his "carria", or peppers. He's very proud of them!

Grandma (Avery's Mom) with her girls.

Yosef's first glimpse of the ocean. If you think that adopting older children means missing out on all of life's "firsts" just look at this little face as it experiences yet another "first"!

Mihret's first glimpse. Can you say DISBELIEF????

For the record, no children have suffered from a broken limb...yet!
The First Day of School! 6:00AM...sleep....
Lucas insisted on a picture with just him and his "mama" He cried when I had to leave him...which made me cry....several days in a row.....thankfully, it's better now. :)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Severely Burned Ugandan Child

The following is a public letter from World Help, an organization committed to feeding hungry children throughout the world. Last year, our family had the blessing of hosting two of World Help's sponsored children who are currently on tour with a Children of the World choir to raise awareness and funds for children who are not yet sponsored. Oliviah from Uganda and Sowmya from India stayed with us and were both such preciouus little girls. This letter concerns a Ugandan child who was severely burned recently. My little Lucas was burned quite badly this past spring and was very sad for this Ugandan child. He is going to write her a letter because he knows the pain she is experiencing. It reminds me of a sweet little boy in Texas who sent my Lucas an email and called him on the phone because he too had been burned quite badly and wanted Lucas to know that the burns do indeed get better in time. God used that little boy's wounds to help my Lucas heal. And now God is giving my Lucas a chance to allow his wounds to be used to reach out to little Dorothy. Won't you reach out to her too?

Thank you for partnering with World Help through your gifts and prayers. Together we are impacting millions of lives around the world, both now and for eternity.

We recently received word from our partner in Uganda of a terrible accident involving one of our sponsored children. Ten-year-old Dorothy was lighting a lamp when she spilled kerosene on herself and was burned by the flames. She suffered third degree burns over 20-30% of her body including her face, chest, arms and down her body.

Dorothy was immediately rushed to the hospital where she remains today. Recently a World Help staff member was in the area and able to check on her, and what she found is heartbreaking. Even after her initial treatment, Dorothy was still in excruciating pain, covered in severe burns and open wounds across the front of her body. While she is beginning to heal, her recovery will involve several surgeries and painful procedures. Undeterred, Dorothy is anxious to return to school and has hopes of becoming a teacher one day. Please pray for her full recovery as she perseveres through this trying time.

We have committed to pay all of Dorothy’s medical expenses and provide full support through her recovery. In her honor, World Help’s Child Sponsorship Program has begun a Medical Emergency Fund to use in cases like these where immediate medical action is necessary. If you would like to contribute to this cause, click here to make a secure online donation, or call our office at (800)-541-6691.

Thank you again for your continued support. You are truly providing help and hope, and together we are making a difference!

Vernon Brewer, President

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I cannot find the cable to connect the camera to the computer yet, but I'll share some that were taken before Lucas went into the hospital in May. This first one was taken at our church when we had a special celebration and day where we dedicated all four of our children to God, vowing to raise them in the love and knowledge of Him. As you can see, they were all a little bit shy standing in front of our church!

Truly, I have two babies and this picture proves it. They are both sooooo snuggly! I love it!
This was taken at a baseball game right after Mihret didn't get her way. This is the "I just got told no" position. We see it A LOT! LOL

This photo was taken right after we finally convinced Yosef and Mihret that it wasn't really cotton, but that it was made out of sugar and they really could eat it. I can't believe that I used to actually like this stuff!

My sweet little Lucas. Love that dimple!
Does this look like a crew that would ever fight or squabble?!?!?

Girls, Girls, Girls

Me, my girls, and my dear friend, Abeba

My family with my dear friend, Rosa

Kaitlyn braiding Mihret's hair and Mihret braiding her doll's much time I would save if Kaitlyn could actually do a nice job on braiding this girl's hair! Ahhh...I braided it tonight and I'm down to just one hour on a simple braid job that will last a week.

I'm Still Alive!!!

That's right- I am still alive! I know that many of you probably thought that I had dropped off the face of the earth. But I am still right here in my nice little house with my wonderful, ever patient husband, and four energetic little munchkins!

I have found that having four children means that I have much less time for things like this blog! Hence the lack of new posts. Additionally, I started my new teaching job two weeks ago, so my time is even more limited than ever before. Starting on August 1, all four children will be in school with me. I'll be glad for that because right now I am missing them like crazy while I'm at work getting the classroom ready for the students. I'd be lying though if I claimed that I didn't enjoy the change of scenery just a little bit. But I am definitely ready to receive all of those dirty, sweaty, sticky little hugs at the end of the day!

So, it's been four months now since Yosef and Mihret came home to our family in America from Ethiopia. Would you believe that we're already thinking of adopting again?!?! (Only on my good days....or maybe they're my crazy days....hmmmmm). Things are feeling more and more settled all the time. The children had a spell where there was lots of fighting as all four of them were trying to figure out what their roles and positions were supposed to be in this new configuration. But it seems that everybody has found their places for the most part.

Lucas is still my cuddling, snuggly little rambunctious boy and also the baby in every sense of the word. Those of you who aren't youngest children will understand exactly what this means! Mihret wants to be the baby, but realizes that she's honestly just more mature than that, though she's more than willing to shower me with affection any time day or night. Kaitlyn is realizing that having a sister has not lived up to her fantasy where the girls never fought and always played so nicely together. But, in her realization, she's also found some acceptance of this fact and is now moving on into reality. She spends more time playing by herself without Mihret than she did at first, which helps her so much with being patient and understanding. The girls often get along really nicely, and the other half of the time they bicker back and forth. So, I guess they're truly sisters! And Yosef is definitely the oldest in every sense of the word. He's such a sweet and funny little kid. He's had to be the man of the family before, so it's sometimes hard for him to be a kid. But, mostly he's just a great little boy who loves and coddles and humors and also teases his little brother and sisters. And Avery and I have learned that our house definitely needs to have more structure now that there are four of the little guys running around. We do more things "assembly line style" now and tend to have a routine for just about everything. But as the kids are learning the routine, they're falling into line more and more. Our house is definitely not chaotic for the most part, though we do have our days. Mostly though, things are running smoothly. Everybody is getting their fair share of individual attention and at night we breath a sigh of relief when everybody is quietly tucked in to bed and we can sit back and relax with each other. Life is good. I am so blessed by these children who call me "Mommy." What more could I ask for?

Lucas is healing very well from his burn this past May. He will definitely not need a skin graft and we are so thankful to God for this. The only concern is that a scar does not continue to grow with a child's growing body the way skin does. It merely gets stretched out as the child grows. His deepest scars are on his shoulder and the doctors are concerned that he is not developing enough excess scar tissue. Without adequate excess, the scar will become stretched very tight as he grows bigger and limit mobility in his shoulder. The only thing we can do is to massage the scar in order to try to stretch it while it's still forming. This is a very painful thing for Lucas and he screams in pain when we do it. Not a pleasant thing. Honestly, I need to do it more than I do because as painful as it is now, it's better than losing mobility in his arm later. Aside from that, he is doing so good. He's able to swim and be outside as long as he's wearing his special SPF shirt that a very precious family sent him.

Mihret is such a good little girl. We had problems at first with her testing the limits and not obeying. But once she understood the boundaries and the consequences, she fell into line. She still tries to test us, but what kid doesn't?! She loves to help me. Today we spent some time at my school because Avery was fixing some of my broken student desks. I was putting up bulletin boards while he worked and Mihret was just such a good helper with handing me tape, boarders, etc. She's definitely grieving though. She was about 3 1/2 when her mother died and she remembers it well. All of her memories of her mother are very happy memories, aside from the memory of her mommy going to sleep at night and not waking up in the "good morning." My heart broke the night that she sat on my lap crying as she told me about that sad morning when her mommy did not "stand up in the good morning." She has no memory of her mother not being sick in bed. But she must have been an amazing woman because both of the children love her so much and have told me so many stories about how she was funny and sang songs with them and played with them. But I know that grief is necessary if there is to be healing and I am so thankful that she is turning to me in her grief instead of shutting me out. I know that God will heal her little heart.

Kaitlyn is dying with anticipation right now for school to start. She is the entire reason that I even considered teaching at this school. It is a school for the arts and they are truly top notch. When we have gone to see their performances, I honestly felt like I had cheated the system because they didn't charge me anything to come in. Kaitlyn will be taking ballet classes as part of the curriculum along with art classes, dance, music, theater, and chorus. And the arts are also integrated into the academic curriculum. This is so right up her alley. I really think that she will thrive in this environment. I'm excited for her!

Yosef is doing well, though he's having a little bit of a hard time with certain aspects of the culture here in America. Namely, the respect that Americans give to women is very hard for him to understand and submit to. Most days are okay. But some days he just really struggles to respect women in general, but especially me. This is requiring lots of clear boundaries about what is expected of him and Avery has really had to enforce this on my behalf. The little guy has some deeply ingrained misogyny that has been passed down both generationally and culturally to him. Truly, we recognize that while we must set clear boundaries for him in this, only God can change a heart. So, together, we pray for our little son that God will give him a heart towards women that matches His own heart towards women. When Yosef isn't struggling with this, he's such an affectionate little guy with me. It took some work and time, but he is bonding well with me. I love it when he wakes up in the morning and says, "Why you not hug me today, Mom?!" and looks overly hurt until I hug him. Or when I pray for him in his bed at night and he grabs me around my neck and tries to not let go so that I will stay with him. Those are the moments that make all the struggle worth it.

God has been very good to us in all of this transition. In the moments where we have been just truly lost as to what to do, God has made it somehow okay. We have had dear friends support us and pray for us in this. I still cannot believe that we have experienced first-hand the miracle of childbirth AND the miracle of adoption! Both are miracles. A child coming into a family is a miracle. And we have been blessed to have experienced four miracles! And I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that there are more little miracles out there in the world not in need of a family yet, but sometime in the not-so-distant future, they will be waiting for us. So, now that I'm working, we need to first buy a newer van than the 198,000 mile van that we currently have. Then, we're going to start saving money for the next adoption.

This one will probably not be from Ethiopia, as I think the law now states that you can't have more than 5 kids in the family to adopt from Ethiopia. If we adopt more than one, then we'd be ineligible and I really want to adopt another sibling set that is less likely to find a family. Just as my heart has been drawn to Ethiopia, my heart has also been drawn to Uganda. But, Uganda has a requirement that you be a resident for 3 years prior to adoption. Would you believe that the very same day that I found out about Ethiopia's new restrictions, I found out that Uganda had lifted the residency requirement? I believe that my future children are in Uganda with their still-living mother. Time will tell...

I wish I could leave you with some pictures, but I can't find the cable to connect my camera to my computer! I will try to update soon though because my kids are sooooooooo cute! :) Yes, I'm a little biased.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Our Exciting Life...

Lucas went back to UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center on Friday for a check up and the doctors all agreed that he is doing quite well. Many of the burns have healed to the point that I only need to keep a constant coat of moisturizer applied. All of those burns seem to be flat scars that are still quite pink, but will probably just be white. Which isn't so bad since he is Caucasian. Seriously, I've seen some very young brown-skinned kids in the burn center with white scars which are much obvious than the white scars that my white kid has. My heart has broken for some of the kids we've met. The only burn that is still problematic is one that covers his upper right arm, shoulder, and part of his back. At one point, the entire wound had become closed. But then he started experiencing some secondary blistering, as his new skin in that area isn't strong enough yet to keep all of the normal body fluids inside. As a result, the fluids are pushing their way up through the skin, causing blisters to form, which eventually rupture and leave more open wounds. Usually a ruptured blister isn't a big deal, but on a burn patient, it leaves raw skin exposed. The doctor gave him sort of tight brace that he has to wear over the burn and I have to keep it tightly wrapped with an ace bandage in order to lend pressure to the skin which aids in keeping the body fluids underneath where they belong. Since Friday, he has had no new blisters. The great news for Lucas is that once the current blisters heal over, he is allowed to go swimming!!!!! Talk about a happy kid!

On a different note, I had the revelation last week that as you increase your number of children, you also increase your chances that something bad will happen with them. Additionally, I believe that if you double the number of BOYS that you have, that you at least quadruple the chances that something bad will happen with them! Lucas and Yosef decided that it would be a good idea to catch bees with a fishing net, then put them inside a soda bottle. Mind you, they have been warned before that this isn't a good idea. I was in the bathroom last Thursday when Yosef came inside yelling, "Mom!!! A bee BITE my finger!" As I was applying caladryl, I noticed that his voice was very hoarse. He too had noticed, but was rather amused by his voice. So I thought that he was playing games with me....until I noticed the rash breaking out on his neck and spreading down his back and arms. I piled all four kids into the van immediately and rushed to the emergency room. By the time we got there, Yosef was no longer amused and was very scared. His entire body had begun to swell, the hives covered his body now and had become quite itchy, and he was having difficulty in breathing. Thank God, we live in a country where all it takes to stop an allergic reaction like this is a dose of steroids and a little bit of time. He told me that he had been stung by bees in Ethiopia, but nothing like that had ever happened before. Evidently, we have a different kind of bee here in America! Needless to say, I think that my boys will no longer catch bees. Avery made my job as a mom easier by promising $5 to the kid who can catch a rabbit first. Now, when they're going crazy in the house, I just remind them of the $5 and off the run out the door to catch a rabbit. Honestly, I expect that somebody will catch a rabbit before the summer is over!

I realized that I didn't post on my blog that I got that teaching job that I interviewed for! I found out the day that Lucas got burned and somehow (I can't imagine how!) it slipped my mind to post about it! I start in the middle of July and all four kids will be going to the same school with me starting the first week in August. It's a year-round school, which I wasn't too keep on at first, but I'm seeing the benefits of that schedule. The only thing I am not looking forward to is that I will have to be out the door with all four kids by 6:15AM. YIKES!!!!! Aside from that, it seems like a very good fit for our family.

The transition is going very good with adding two kids to the family. It's been 3 months since they've been home and I can honestly say that each week gets better than the previous one. It's funny, but in the first month, I felt like things were going pretty good. But now that we're 3 months in, I look back and wonder how we survived that first month! That makes me think that in another three months, I'll look back on this time period and wonder the same thing. Which is good! It means that things are improving!

Yosef and Mihret's English is developing very well. They both understand just about everything I say to them. They do not understand a heavy southern accent though. Which is sort of a problem since we live in the south! They are good with a mild accent at least. :) It's funny because sometimes a person with a heavy accent will ask them a question that I know they comprehend, but they look like they're completely confused. So I "translate" by re-asking the exact same question with my northern accent. Then they give a response with their Amharic accent. I LOVE diversity!

My dear friend Rosa visited us last week and was here for a special celebration at our church. We had a little ceremony where we dedicated all of our children to God, as they are truly gifts from him. We cooked Ethiopian food together all day on Saturday and served it after church. I was surprised at how many people liked the food! Then again, it is really really yummy, so why shouldn't they love it?!

Rosa speaks Amharic, as she was born and raised in Ethiopia. So the kids enjoyed being able to talk with her some, but mostly, they just spoke in English to her. Kaitlyn decided as soon as Rosa got off the airplane that she really liked her and quietly took her hand. Kaitlyn is so quiet and sweet like that. But not with everybody. She has her favorite people that she picks out and decides to befriend. She's very sweet. Anyway, Rosa was kind enough to share her observations of some of the unfairness that has been happening in our family. Mostly, things that we allow Yosef and Mihret to get away with that Kaitlyn and Lucas definitely aren't allowed to do. I really appreciated her honest, humble observations. So, starting last Monday, I declared that everybody would be treated equally. I had some very happy American kids and some not-so-happy Ethiopians for a few days. But everybody quickly understood the rule-changes and complied and the house ran much smoother last week. Poor Kaitlyn had the hardest time of anybody with adjusting to new kids. But she is doing much better with it all now.

Thank you to everybody who sent cards, gifts, and emails while Lucas was in the hospital. I can't even begin to explain how much it brightened our days. His hospital wall was covered with cards. He thought he was the coolest thing ever! And one family was so nice that they sent a sun-proof outfit for Lucas. It's a very light-weight long-sleeved shirt and shorts that can unbutton at the legs to become pants. It adds a layer of spf to protect his new skin. He wears it almost everyday. This outfit has been such a blessing. He had it on at the burn center last Friday and all of the doctors and patients thought he was so cool and wanted to know where it came from so they could get one too. I also found out via a tip on my blog that you can buy Sun Guard, a laundry soap that adds spf protection to your clothing. Anyway, THANK YOU!!!!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lucas- Friday, June 1

Lucas had his doctor appointment yesterday and the doctor was very pleased with how well the wound is healing and with how clean it is. There is no sign of infection. He will need to wear a brace on his foot to help stimulate circulation where he was burned. He doesn't need one on his arm just yet, but they'll keep an eye on it. His lower back no longer has open burns on it and is no longer painful to the touch. His shoulder and upper arm are where the deepest burns occurred, and even they are looking very good. Tonight when I changed his bandages, his upper arm had actually completely closed up so that it is no longer open. The shoulder still has open wounds on it, but it is healing very well. The doctor was still not ready to completely rule out surgery. I think that he is just playing it safe and doesn't want to give me a definite answer until he's completely healed. Lucas returns in two weeks for another check up. So, the news is very good!!!!

I can't believe how many cards, gifts, emails, phonecalls, etc. this little guy and our family have received since this whole ordeal started! Today I got a package from some of the families that have adopted kids from our agency. I was especially touched by this, as we haven't really had contact with the families since we were removed from the agency's yahoo list. When I got the box in the mail, it was so nice. Yosef and Mihret were so happy to see that some of their friends' families had sent packages. I think it helped them to feel connected in knowing that people from Ethiopia and their American families cared about their little brother. A family (not from our adoption agency) even sent Lucas a special lightweight outfit that will cover all of his burns (minus the foot) with a special SPF fabric that acts as a barrier against the sun's UV rays. This is really important, as a deep burn takes an entire year to completely heal. As the body is re-creating the skin, if it is tanned or burned at all, it will permanently alter the color of the skin. If we can keep him protected from the sun, and take very good care of that new skin, then there is a good chance that the skin will eventually be the same color as his not-burned skin. I haven't had to cook a meal since we got home from the hospital, as our church has completely taken care of our meals for us. It's really been a refreshing time for our family to be able to spend more time bonding as we settle back into a routine.

As far as bonding is concerned, I had been very concerned about what effect it might have that Avery and I had to leave for such a long time, so soon after bringing Yosef and Mihret home from Ethiopia. A friend and I spent quite a bit of time praying together about that very thing. We asked God to protect the bonding that had already occurred. I was so happy to get home last week and find that God had answered that prayer. In fact, things are now even better than they were before the accident happened. Yosef is becoming so affectionate toward me. He truly loves me and is feeling more free to express that. Mihret is obeying very well, a concept that wasn't easy for her to grasp in the first couple of weeks! Lucas truly missed his brother and sisters, and was therefore quite happy to be with them again. Kaitlyn had struggled quite a bit with finding her place after we all got home from Ethiopia. I had a lot of time in the hospital to think, pray, and reflect on that situation. And I have a better idea now of how I can help her to adjust. Since I've been employing some of these new strategies, things have been so much better for her. She's finally finding her place again. So, all of this, just to say that things are really good!

As far as taking care of Lucas is concerned, the only really hard part is his daily bath. It must be excruciatingly painful for the poor little guy. It takes one person to hold him down while I focus on washing his wounds. I can't really blame him for trying to get away from me- I think I'd try to escape a bath of open wounds too! His physical therapy exercises were very painful for him at first, but he's doing a lot better with that now. And the bandage changes twice a day aren't as traumatic as they used to be either. As the wounds are starting to heal over, they're not requiring a bandage any more, so there is less area to cover. Therefore, less pain to endure!

Though I'm taking a 40 day break from my blog, I will keep it updated as we find out more about Lucas's condition so that people can know specifically how to pray. Thank you all so much!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Call

This is a "sign-off" post for the next forty days. I have decided that for a period of forty days, from Memorial day through 07-07-07, I will be fasting from the internet with the exception of checking my email. I'm participating in "The Call", which is a call for Christians to humble themselves to fast and pray for our nation. If you're interested in joining me, check out the website.

Thank you again to all who have prayed for Lucas these past few weeks. He continues to improve steadily each day. The little guy still has a rough couple of weeks ahead as his skin continues to heal, but it truly is healing more and more every time I have to change his bandages. He goes back to the doctor on Friday. I will interrupt my fast to update on his condition for those who are praying for him.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


We are going home with Lucas today!!!! The doctor came this morning and he will be going home within the next couple of hours!!!!! They still have not completely ruled out the need for surgery, but every day, more healing has taken place. I am completely confident that God is healing my baby without surgery. Last night, the very deep burns started to itch, which is such a great sign of healing.

As I talked with a close friend last night about the past two weeks, I couldn't help but realize what a blessing they have been in so many ways. Obviously, Lucas being burned is a horribly tragic thing that I would change in a heartbeat if I could. And I never wanted to leave the other three kids like this. But, it did happen. And given the circumstances, I have been very blessed these past two weeks. God has faithfully stayed by my side. So many times, Lucas has been in pain in the night and absolutely unable to fall asleep. The situation last night is one of many examples. Last night, he had become increasingly itchy and in pain over a course of a few hours. At 2:00AM, he was awake and screaming with no further pain medications available. In despair, I called a friend and we began to pray for him. Mind you, it had been an hour since his last dose of medication and he was screaming and crying out in pain still. We prayed for him and within five minutes, he was still and calm. We continued praying together for another 20 minutes or so and he fell asleep while we were praying. This happened more times in the past two weeks than I can count as my friend and I have prayed in the wee hours of the morning for Lucas to be still and sleep. My faith has seriously been strengthened to see this happen time after time during the night hours! I wish Avery had been here to see it happening. It was truly amazing!

And now we are going home!!!!! Mind you, I am fully prepared for a turbulent couple of days, as there will be much adjustment to take place with all of us. But I'm ready. And I know Lucas is ready. The hospital is so boring. He's in the burn center, which isn't set up for kids at all. So, there's not a lot for him to do. He'll be so happy to be home. And I am so happy to be seeing the other kids again. And sleeping in my own bed again. Next to my husband. With my entire family once again under the same roof. With a deeper security of God's love and faithfulness to fight my battles than I had before. Safe in the knowledge that God is answering my prayers and healing my baby without surgery. God is indeed very good. Very, very good. Always.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Homefront

Well, I've decided that I must simply believe that the three kids at home really are doing okay. Many people from our family and circle of friends have pitched in to help out with them these past two weeks. And I have thoroughly interrogated each of them as to the well being of my three children at home. Every single person has told me that they are doing really good and seem to be very happy and content. My Amharic speaking friends (three) have all assured me that Yosef and Mihret both understand that their family is permanent, that Mom and Dad will indeed come home, etc. Yet I've been so worried about them. But today, it dawned on me that if the kids weren't okay, that at least one person would have let it slip by now! Let's face it- I think I have kids who are content and secure, even the newest additions. And I have to believe that God is holding them safe in the palm of His hand and that when I get home, we'll be able to deal with any issues that may have arisen in our absence.

Even Kaitlyn, my melodramatic little sweetheart seems to be doing okay. She did have an incident on the school bus today though. There is a girl who is periodically mean to Kaitlyn. Today, this girl teased Kaitlyn saying, "Your daddy smokes cigarettes!" Now, this is completely not true, but it hurt Kaitlyn's feelings and she told me that she cried on the bus. She related the story to me in tears as well. Poor baby!

Kaitlyn also reported to me in whispers on the phone so as not to be overheard that Mihret is not obeying Uncle Shane very good. :) When I asked Mihret, she insisted, "No, me very very good. Me tazazgi (basically means "obey) Uncle Shane!" Just in case, we told Shane to give her a "time-out" if she disobeyed! It melts my heart when she tells me, "Mommy, me love you. Yes, very very love. You come home today. Yes?" She's been with me for less than two months, but our hearts belong to each other. She is mine and I am hers. I miss her sweet little hugs so much!

And Yosef seriously is getting cuter by the day! He got a new bike for his birthday, which he totally loves. He also got lots of little bike accessories, which he has thoroughly enjoyed. I need to hurry home so I can watch him riding his new bike!

And my little Lucas. He's so sweet, even when he's as grouchy as he's been the past couple of days. He likes checking "his" email. And he's gotten so many nice cards and little packages in the mail. The poor kid had a tragedy happen though, and he doesn't even know it. Carrots is his green bunny that appears in many family photos. He's been a long-time best friend to Lucas and shows signs of extreme love on his stained self. When I say that Carrots is green, I mean that he's neon green and orange. Very bold colors. Yet, evidently, not bold enough, as the hospital laundry service picked him up amidst all of the WHITE hospital linens. And he's gone. We tried to find him, but he's just gone. Avery, the outstanding dad that he is, went on ebay though and found a new Carrots. The only problem is that the new Carrots is just that- NEW! He doesn't show any of the signs of love that the old Carrots showed. He actually has whiskers, he has a bow, his neck isn't smashed down from so many hugs that his head flops around. So we decided to tell Lucas that Carrots had gotten burned in the accident just like him, so we sent him to a special "stuffie" hospital where he would get all fixed up and that he could come back when he was better. We thought this was a very appropriate lie in this situation, as we didn't want him to be brokenhearted over his little Carrots and we knew that he would definitely notice the difference between old and new Carrots. Well, when we explained all of this to Lucas, his response was a very casual and off-handed, "Why didn't we just buy a new Carrots?!"
Dear Friends and Family,

Admittedly, I couldn't write this email earlier this morning when the doctor came to see Lucas, as I was quite heart broken to find out that he will have to stay in the hospital and the possibility of surgery has still not been taken off the table. But, after a few hours of sleep, things look brighter to me! :)

The doctor will come back on Thursday to look at his wounds again. While this morning's news wasn't what I had hoped for (I really wanted us to all go home today!), the news actually is good. The areas of concern are continuing to improve. He's healing quite well. But because of the depth of some of the burns, it is too early for the doctor to know if they will heal completely on their own or if they still might require surgery. So, keep praying! God's healing is much more gentle than surgery!

Also, please pray for Lucas to be able to sleep at night. His sleep is just so very tormented at nighttime. He's only getting a few hours at best each night, which means that's also how much I am sleeping. He's tormented by insane itching (a good sign of healing), pain, bad dreams, etc.

Avery's brother, Shane, is recovering quite well from his emergency surgery last week and is able to take care of the other kids for us. This is such a huge blessing to us to know that even though we can't be with them, at least they are in their own home with just one person caring for them instead of having them in a different house each night. But, with that said, I also feel so blessed by the friends in our life locally, as I have truly not had to worry about them for even a moment. (Not that I haven't worried, but there's no need, as I know God is caring for them)

Also, Avery talked to his boss this morning and since Lucas has to stay in the hospital this week as well, his boss has extended his PAID family leave time by allowing him to take PAID sick days for the rest of this week! And God's people have been so generous in blessing us financially so that we are able to stay here in Chapel Hill and travel home some too without having to worry about the expense of it all. As awful as this accident has been, we have no room to complain. God's blessing and provision and love have flowed with abundance through His people. Mind you, that doesn't mean I haven't complained! But when I'm not feeling exceptionally sleep deprived, I'm overwhelmed by all that God has done on our behalf. I can't say enough how very good God is and how blessed we are to have eyes to see His hand on our lives. Thanks for your prayers and keep praying! Good news coming on Thursday...


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ronald McDonald House

I am so thankful for the Ronald McDonald House. Avery has been sleeping there at night and finally convinced me to take some time out and go rest there. I took a nap and a bath there yesterday. It is so warm and cozy and peaceful. It felt as much like "home" as I could ask for right now. It was much, much better than the sterile, busy hospital. I wish I could take Lucas there. I think there's something healing about being at "home" somewhere.

Today I went there and spent some time talking with a friend on the phone (I miss my friends!). I talked with my friend about how much I miss my kids! And how much Lucas needs to get home as soon as possible. I've called this particular friend more times than I can count this week, especially in the middle of the night when Lucas can't stop crying and there's no more medication that he can take. She listens to me, consoles me, and prays for Lucas and for me. It was good to hear her voice.

After we talked, I grabbed my Bible and headed outside where I discovered a beautiful walking trail that winds through the woods. God knows my heart so well. Nothing can calm me the way being surrounded by nature does. I walked for a long time, then sat down with my back leaning on a fallen tree. I pulled out my Bible and read in Psalm 139 about how God goes behind me and ahead of me, that all of my days were known by Him before my life even began, that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm still completely and utterly exhausted, but refreshed in my mind, emotions, and spirit.

After I finally came back to the house, a nice hot meal was waiting for me. I ate the best meal I've had since Lucas had his accident. As I bowed my head to thank God, I was truly so very thankful that it brought tears to my eyes. Lord, please bless the women from the local church who prepared that wonderful meal.

Now I'm back at the hospital where Lucas is busy with a very important job given to him by one of the nurses. He has to color and cut out animals for in the garden bulletin board at the end of the hall. It's good to see him taking his job so seriously!

Soon it will be bath time (which equal screaming time), and then bed time. If you're reading this on Saturday, please pray for lots and lots of sleep tonight for both of us.

Also, you can check out a (really poor quality) recording of a worship set Avery and I did at our church a few days before we came to the hospital. The recording has a lot of distortion, but I thought it was cool that Avery made me quasi famous by putting me on his blog! :) Toward the end of the song there is some Amharic that I threw in for Yosef and Mihret who both got ear to ear grins when I started singing. Lord, I miss my kids!

Lucas (Saturday 10:30AM)

As I type this, I am coming off the third sleepless night with Lucas. We were awake until 3:00AM last night. It was 5:30 AM the night before. 2:00AM the night before that. Needless to say, both he and I are absolutely exhausted. His itchiness is excruciating. No official word on the need for surgery yet. I have the option of getting him up at 5AM tomorrow morning for a bath so the doctor can see him and make a call. But I honestly think I'll probably wait until Monday, as the thought of 5AM is enough to make me cry right now! Pray for sleep and relief from itchiness!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lucas (Wednesday 5:30PM)

Well, last night was a pretty rough night with Lucas. He was just in a lot of pain and his IV came out AGAIN. Thankfully, this time the nurse decided that enough was enough and didn't put it back in. She called the doctor and had him put on all oral medications instead. But, since last night was rough, he was still tired this morning and in a lot of pain. Bathtime was rough this morning. I did do most of the washing/peeling of the burns today, which is important if I'm ever to demonstrate the the hospital staff that I'm capable of caring for him on my own at home.

The really great news is that the one area of concern from yesterday looked completely different today. The doctor didn't come in to see him today, so I don't have a professional medical opinion on this. But to my untrained eye, it looked the same as the other areas that were formerly a concern until yesterday. I'm anxious and excited to hear what the doctor has to say about it, though I don't know when he'll come see him again.

This morning, one of the nurses pretty well summed up Lucas. I dropped Lucas off in the bath room then came back to get his bathrobe for him. While I was doing that, one of the nurses came to tell me that, "The emperor is summoning his queen!" I laughed so hard, as that's exactly what this situation is like!

Lucas was talking to my mom on the phone the other night and he kept asking her to bring him some broccoli and cheese. He was absolutely insistent that she needed to do that. Now, the kid really does like broccoli and cheese. He likes the kind in the little boxes in the frozen food section a lot. But he's not really eating anything right now and what a weird thing to be asking for! So when he hung up, I questioned him on it and discovered that he doesn't really want any broccoli right now. My mom had asked him if she could buy it and leave it in the freezer at our house, but he insisted that she needs to buy him a lot and bring it to the hospital. His reason was that he saw an opportunity (being in the hospital) and decided to try and get my mother to buy him something that he likes. But he is convinced that if she buys it and puts it in the freezer at our house that the other kids will eat it all before he gets home. S0 he wants her to bring it to him for a gift and keep it in the freezer at the hospital so he can take it home when he's released from the hospital!

Since coming to the hospital, I've been with Lucas nearly twenty-four/seven and I can honestly say that I've laughed more than I have in a long time! :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Yosef!!!!

On another note, my little Yosef is having a birthday today!!!!!! He is turning 10 years old!!!! Avery and I are leaving the hospital early this afternoon so we can go home for his party. Some of the very nice people here at the hospital have promised to help Lucas out and check in on him while I'm gone. Avery's aunt will be here at 5:30, so he'll only be alone for a few hours.

I talked to Yosef this morning and he is soooooo excited! I need to get some new pictures of him on my blog because he is soooooo incredibly cute. He has a cute little hair cut and is looking happier and happier all the time. Some very dear friends of mine took it upon themselves to completely organize a birthday party for him. All I have to do is arrive. What a huge relief for me! And what a blessing to all of us! Pictures coming soon...

Lucas Monday 10:00AM

Dear Friends and Family,

First, Avery's brother, Shane, made it through surgery just fine last night and his recovery is expected to be quite fast.

Second, the doctor came to look at Lucas this morning and the news we got was most encouraging! When the doctor last saw him, he said without question that a couple of areas would definitely need surgery. It was just a question of how large an area would need to be removed and grafted. This morning, all but one of those areas was showing signs of healing on its own though! And the area that isn't starting to heal yet is at a stage where it could go either way. So, the doctor is no longer saying that he definitely needs surgery. Instead, he wants to wait a few more days and see if that one spot does start to heal on its own. So....God is still on the throne! And He is still sovereign to heal! My faith is very much encouraged this morning that God is more than able to heal this without surgery. My heart is very settled that even if he does need surgery that it will still be okay, as God's faithfulness endures forever, with or without surgery. But I really want to see God demonstrate His power to heal in my little son.

I will keep you updated and thank you for your prayers!


Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday (5:00PM)

Update on Avery's brother- He's still in the waiting room of the ER. He's been there for nearly five hours now. The triage people did look at him, determined he has appendicitis, then put him back in the waiting room without so much as giving him pain medication. So we're praying that he will be quickly seen. I feel so bad for him, being so far away from home. But Steve, the pastor at our church, stayed with him up until about 30 minutes ago. Avery's cousin who goes to college about 45 minutes from our house got right in his car and went straight to the hospital when he found out. So, at least Shane isn't alone. And after Steve teaches a seminar, he's going back to the hospital.

Monday (1:00PM)

Well, life in our family seems to be a continual crisis these days! So continual in fact, that the only thing we can do is laugh. It's almost like a comedic movie, except it's actually happening to us! What am I talking about you might ask?

Well, Avery's brother Shane was going to stay with the other three kids through the month of May. Yesterday he started feeling sick in church. By the time I left to come back to the hospital in the afternoon, he was throwing up. Then last night he got a fever. This morning, the pain in his stomach localized to his lower right side. Yea, I know, you don't have to be a genius to know that sounds like apendicitis! Just to clarify, we asked the doctors here and they all said to send him straight to the ER as it sounds like a ruptured apendix to them. Poor kid! Thank God for good friends in our life though. Our pastor, Steve, rushed straight over to our house to take him to the emergency room. I have no news yet.

Lucas is doing pretty good today. He slept all through the night, only needing pain meds once, and not having any fever. It's back up to 101 right now, but he did great in physical therapy this morning. He was actually running! He has another session in about an hour. We'll know tomorrow what the doctor wants to do about surgery.

He was very concerned last night because he realized that the little syringes that he gets his medicine in are made of plastic. He really wanted the nurse to recycle them! What an environmentally friendly kid! :)

He was "really worried" again when he realized how much TV he's been watching. He cried and said, "I'm really worried because I watched TV all day and that's just not healthy and it will make me stupid!" He was so serious. How can I not laugh at this kid?!?!

On another note, I think that I forgot to mention that I got the teaching job that I interviewed for! I found out the day of the accident, so it kind of wasn't so much in the forefront of my mind! Hmmmm....I wonder why?!?! :)

I slept absolutely great last night. I woke up quite a lot to check on Lucas, but when I was asleep, it was really deep, good sleep. I actually feel rested and good today.

I did discover some burns on the poor little guy's head today though. The deal I made with him was that if he would take a nice bath, that I would spike his hair. So when I put the hair gel in and used the blow dryer, he cried out in pain. I looked at his head and sure enough, he has some crusty, oozy burns on the top of it. He's actually had crusty hair there every day, but I thought it was from being so sweaty while he sleeps. They're only minor 2nd degree burns though. He'll be fine. Still, nothing on his face, and that's the thing I'm so very thankful for.

Other things I'm really thankful for:

1. Avery's employer gave him 10 days of PAID family leave time. That's right- PAID!!! He won't be able to be at the hospital every single day, but he's able to be here a lot and that is such a blessing to Lucas and to me. It would be so much more difficult if I was by myself.

2. People have poured out their love on our family. People are praying for us. LOTS of people are praying for us. LOTS of emails, phone calls, LOTS of people giving financial help to us, as they understand how expensive it is to have to eat, sleep, live in a hospital. Not to mention we have a two hour drive from home to hospital. Even there though, I'm thankful it's not further.

3. Lucas is in such good spirits. He's such a happy, cute little kid.

4. My other kids have been well cared for and are happy.

5. I have more friends than I realized.

6. The friends I knew I had have drawn so much closer to me to pour out their love on me; to show me God's love.

7. So many people are loving me by loving my children right now. People are remembering the three that are home without their parents right now by sending them little treats. Yesterday in church, my dear friend Donna sat next to them during praise and worship just to be near to them and to reassure them of her love.

8. My dear friends have remembered me and Avery by putting together a care package for us. I don't know what is in it, but it's so heavy that it requires a man to carry it. It will be arriving very shortly for us.

9. My precious friend Ababa took Mihret to her house to wash and rebraid her hair so I wouldn't have to worry about it. And she looks like an adorable princess!

10. My little Kaitlyn and I have had some very sweet quiet moments together since this happened. My Yosef is speaking to me again. My Mihret is precious and funny as ever.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday 7:00AM

Happy Mother's Day! I have to get out of bed now, as I promised the other kids I'd leave the hospital to come take them to church on Mother's Day. I think that Yosef and Mihret probably don't have any concept of this day, but Kaitlyn does and she'll be devastated if I don't make it. I'm soooooo tired! And I hate driving in Raleigh, Carey, Chapel Hill, as I always get lost. God, help me drive this morning!

Lucas had a great day yesterday, but a very rough night. His fever spiked to 104 and has pretty much stayed there all night. I finally convinced them to ask the doctor to give him Motrin instead of Tylenol, as this is what he always takes at home. He hasn't gotten any yet. But at least they finally gave in! The staff here really is great, but nobody can mother like a mother! Honestly, there were several times in the night where I gave serious consideration to giving him some extra Tylenol, as I know I can double the dose and have him still be okay. But I decided against it because I know the staff needs to have an honest evaluation of his condition. Poor kid!

I just want to say that I am so thankful for wireless internet at this hospital! It can be so lonely being in the hospital. But this laptop has been my link to the outside world. It has meant so much to me to be able to lie in bed with Lucas while he's asleep and check my email. I don't always respond, but I'm reading every one of them. Lucas helped respond to some yesterday. He keeps asking me, "Mom,I want to check my emails about my boo boos." Then he wants to respond something to the effect of, "Dear________, I love you and miss you (even if he doesn't even know them). I miss you a lot. Thank you for praying for me. I love you. I hope you have a good day. And a good night too. I hope you have a good time. From: Lucas Benaiah Moore" This kid is so cute and funny that it would be very hard for me to be discouraged.

I'm also so thankful for friends that I can call in the middle of the night when his fever is spiked or when I can't stop crying. Those are the best kinds of friends anybody could ask for. The middle of the night friends.

In a time of crisis, you see how many blessings you have. You see how many people care about you. You see how good God is. It's funny, but I know that if we hadn't have had to walk through the last two years of this adoption with all of it's pain that my perspective of this current situation would be totally different. But in the past two years, I've come to a place of realizing that despite what happens in life, that God's goodness and faithfulness remain the same. And now, as I see my son in so much pain, I know in the deepest recesses of my heart that God's goodness and faithfulness have not changed. It's not even a struggle. I know it beyond anything I've ever known before. And it's because of our adoption journey. God is very good.

Mind you, I really would like for my life to not look like one crisis and drama after another! :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lucas (Saturday 6:00PM)

Today, there have only been improvements! Thank you, God! Lucas did so good with his exercises today. He even "ran" a few steps toward the elevator. He bent over to pick up a toy a few times. He made a few baskets with a basketball. This is all very good and very vital stuff as far as future mobility of his arm is concerned. Very good stuff. He really worked hard today and is now completely exhausted. As long as his pain meds are working, he's great. Once they start to wear off, the little guy is suffering. But there's not a very long window between when they wear off and when he can have more.

The infection looks a lot better today, so the antibiotics are doing their job. Also, his arm where there was still some question as to whether it would need a skin graft is much better today now that the infection is healing. The spots on his shoulder and back where he definitely needs a skin graft look more clear today too.

Lucas continues to crack up all of the staff here. He really doesn't understand why everybody laughs at him all the time and he's starting to get annoyed with me. In fact, before he fell asleep a few minutes ago, he scowled at me and told me that I'm not allowed to laugh in his room anymore because I'm not a sick person. I'm just his guest! Of course, this made me laugh yet again, which made him even more mad at me! And just then the oxycodone kicked in and he fell asleep! :)

These are a few of the reasons why I can't stop laughing at him:

Yesterday, his nurse, Derek, had to do a strep culture with one of those long cotton swabs. As Derek pulled the swab out of the package, Lucas started to cry. I asked him what was wrong. His reply...and I quote...."I'm just really worried!" I asked, "Why are you worried?" His response was, "I'm really worried that Derek is going to use that and touch my epiglottis. And if you touch your epiglottis, you'll DIE!" Okay. Who could possibly contain their laughter over a five-year-old even saying the word "epiglottis", much less actually knowing what region of the body the epiglottis can be found in?!

His very strict rule about his room is that the only person who is allowed to sit on, lay on, look at, or breathe near his hospital bed is Mommy. He makes an exception for the doctors and nurses.

The word for yesterday was "placebo." I say this because he decided that by blowing on the capped end of his IV tube in his arm that it could instantly relieve his pain! He would desperately cry out, "Mommy! Quick! Blow on my IV!" I would blow and he would instantly find relief from his pain! If I stopped, the pain immediately returned. I totally cracked up when I looked over at him and saw him blowing on his own IV! He's soooo cute! :)

This morning as we walked down the hall for his bath (probably the most painful part of his day), he asked for juice as we passed the "Juice Room" as he calls it. I told him he could have some after his bath, not wanting the added distraction. As we got to the door to the bath room, he looked at me very seriously and said, "Mom, let's make a deal. You give me juice and I'll take a nice bath. Okay?" His tone and expression were so serious that I couldn't refuse the kid his juice!

The other three kids came to the hospital today. I spent most of my time with Kaitlyn in a private waiting room watching TV with her. I miss them all so much and am trying to give each of them some quality one-on-one time when I do get to see them. It was very nice to just sit quietly with her while she had a snack without the pressure and distraction of being with everybody else. Kaitlyn is such a calming person. She has a very quiet, calming presence about her and this unique ability to sit quietly and just "be." Gosh, that sounds strange! It's hard to describe, but it's a very good quality. She's the kind of person who is therapeutic just to be around when you're alone with her. Mind you, she can completely change personalities at any moment, especially when other people are around. But today, she was very calm and I just enjoyed a little bit of togetherness with her. I've been so worried about her.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend much time with the other two. I carried Mihret around the halls for a few minutes and hugged her. She has a high need for lots of hugs, so I tried to give her that in the little bit of time I had with her. Her braids are getting messy, but I asked my friend Ababa to take Mihret to her house today and wash her hair and re-braid it. So, I'm hoping she was able to do that.

I'm very worried about Yosef. When he first came home, he was very attached to Avery, but I had to work at it. I really looked for ways to meet him in his own world as far as bonding is concerned. I had some friends praying specifically for this. And after a couple of weeks, he started to really come around with me. He became very affectionate with me and we started to bond on an emotional level. It was very good. But we've definitely taken a few steps back. I've seen him twice since the accident and he won't look at me, talk to me, or touch me. He's most sad because he misses Avery so very much. His dad became his hero last July when Avery visited him. And now his little world just got turned upside down. I think that he's so upset about being separated from Avery that he just can't even think about Mom right now. And I'm okay with that. I can't imagine this poor little kid's frame of mind right now. Right now, he just really needs his Dad. If you're reading this, please pray for Yosef especially.

But, despite all of the upheaval, the three kids are doing good. They're back at their own house now. Albeit, they are being cared for by strangers. But just a few weeks ago, we were strangers too. At least they have the stability of home right now. Avery's mom and brother are with them. Tomorrow, Avery's mom has to leave, but his brother is staying until the end of May. My parents will be at the house all next week to help out. Shane, Avery's brother, is such a God-send right now. I am so thankful that my kids will have the stability of one person during this time. Many, many people have stepped up to the plate with offers to take care of the kids. And I will definitely be calling on some of them to give Shane a break from time to time. But it's so good to know that Shane will be their constant right now. He's very good with kids, so I know they'll be alright. And Yosef will have a man around, which is really important to him.

Alright. I need to make some phone calls. Thanks for all of your prayers and support.

Friday, May 11, 2007


At this point, we will be at the hospital until at least sometime around May 23. So, here is a mass response to emails asking for his address to send cards to. The baby is sleeping peacefully tonight. We can feel the prayers of so many. God has been very good to us. Today was not how I would have chosen to spend a day, but there were many blessings today. God's love and concern for us is so tangible. Even in this, God is very good. In the Bible, it is written that even when bad things happen, God can turn them around and make them work together for good. God is always all about redeeming broken situations, broken hearts, broken lives. This is yet one more opportunity to see God redeem something horrible and make beauty out of brokenness. I know I wouldn't have this perspective if it weren't for the prayers of so many. Thank you all!

Lucas Moore - Room 5405
C/O NC Jaycee Burn Center
UNC Hospitals
101 Manning Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

How It Happened

I realized earlier when I started getting emails asking how Lucas got burned that I never actually said. He was burned with hot cooking oil. I had deep fried some perogies (potato filled pastry that is deep fried or sauteed) for supper on Wednesday night and Lucas and Mihret stood on a little picnic table next to the stove to watch. I told them to get down so they wouldn't get burned. Mihret got down and ran off. Lucas got down and somehow (I don't know exactly how) the pan of hot oil got tipped over on top of him. He screamed and all pandemonium broke out with screaming in Amharic and English. It was definitely not good! I have never freaked out before when my kids have been hurt. I've always been very good about being calm on the outside and systematically dealing with stuff in the moment and saving my "falling apart" until later. But when I saw my son standing there with his skin hanging off his arms, I really lost it and I started screaming too. So when I started screaming, the other kids started screaming. I got his clothes off and put him in the sink where I rinsed him with cold water to cool him down. Then I wrapped him in a clean sheet and called 911. I gave them the location, details, etc. but it evidently wasn't the order they wanted it in. So they began asking me all of these same questions in a different order. Then they started asking whether he was breathing. Mind you, he was screaming his head off! Then they were confused about our address and which county we live in. At that point I decided that I was wasting valuable time talking on the phone and put him in the van. Our next door neighbor stayed with the other kids and I took him to the ER myself. The ER was absolutely great. They had pain meds and an IV ready before I even got him laid down on the bed. They were wonderful from start to finish. The RN attending to him was so good that she clocked out at the end of her shift, but stayed right with us until the ambulance from the burn center arrived. She was such a blessing to me. She was very loving and calm to me and extremely attentive to Lucas and did not allow him to suffer pain. She was very on top of giving him the pain medication. The burn center has been wonderful as well. They have really taken such good care of him. The recreational therapist helped keep him happy during his very painful bath today and has even scheduled to come in on Saturday and Sunday, her days off, to help with his bath to make it easier for him.

When the accident first happened, it was hard to find a spot on his body that wasn't red. And his hair was covered with oil. But there isn't a single spot of burn on his face or head. There isn't even a speck of splatter burn on his face. And most of the red spots on his body diminished by the next day. Only 11% of his body was estimated to be burned the morning after it happened. Thank God, he was wearing jeans, which protected his legs. He has a little bit of first degree burn on his hip, going around to the front. But it goes no further than that.

Okay. I must be finished. I have a cute little boy lying next to me who wants nothing more than to hold my hand. Please pray for our other three kids. I am very worried about all three of them.

Lucas (Friday 4:00PM)

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you all for your prayers, phone calls, emails, and visits. It's true that in times of crisis, you find out how many people really care about you. There are people in several countries all around the world praying for this little guy and he's even expecting a phone call later from a little boy who heard about Lucas and is calling because he was burned badly last year in a campfire. God has been very good to our family. What the enemy means for our harm, God always uses for good for those who love Him. And my little Lucas definitely loves God!

Lucas is on antibiotics for cellulitis (infection) and will be having surgery tentatively set for Wednesday of next week. Some of the burns on his arms are clearly too deep to heal without skin grafts and are infected. The good news is that when he leaves, we'll know for sure that he's good to go. His spirits are much better today than yesterday. Despite having a fever, he's been very good today. He was very cooperative in his physical therapy and is doing well with mobility. And he has completely stolen the hearts of the staff here at the hospital! They all think he's the most hilarious thing they've ever seen! :)

Thank you all so much for your love and concern.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

U[pdate On Lucas

Dear Family and Friends,
The good news is that a lot of the red areas on Lucas's body have cleared up today. Also, his head and face are not burned at all. His right arm, shoulder, most of his back, and his left foot/ankle are 2nd degree burns and they still haven't determined how deep a few areas are as to classify them as 3rd degree. He is sleeping on me as i type following a pretty rough morning. We are asking God to protect him from the pain when he wakes up. The doctor said this morning that in one week they will evaluate to see if he can be cared for at home. In six weeks, they will evaluate how well it is healing to decide whether surgery is needed. That will depend largely on How well he's fighting infection. They have already started physical therapy to promote healing, fight infection and swelling, etc and it is quite painful. So, please pray specifically for the little guy. He thinks it is so cool that people all over the world are praying for him! He's been totally cracking up the doctors and nuses.:)

Pray For Lucas

Dear Family and Friends,

As some of you already know, our 5 year old son Lucas was burned quite badly last night. He is in the UNC Burn Center at Chapel Hill near Raleigh. We will know more later today after the doctor sees him. At first estimate, we were told that he had 2nd and some 3rd degree burns on 20 percent of his body. They have since downgraded it to 11 percent. Praise God, his face head, and neck did not receive any burns. Please pray that infection does not set in and we are also asking God for there to be no scaring. We're also asking that you pray for our other kids, as it was quite a bad situation with lots of screaming and Amharic flying around when it happened as we were all trying to know what to do. Avery was at the store when it happened and I left the other three kids with a neighbor without sayin goodbye to them or anything. I definitely think it was too soon to leave Yosef and Mihret overnight, but God will be faithful to them. They are in the good hands of a very dear friend right now and I know she will watch over them as her own. I will keep you updated.

Thank you,