Saturday, May 30, 2009

WOW

I quietly added a link to the misc. links sidebar a couple of weeks ago...I ran across it from someone's adoption blog...I don't know which one. I had read a couple of the posts...a woman from Tennessee, living in Uganda who had 11 children...she looked really young in the picture. So I started leafing back through her posts to see if I could figure out how old she was...I have had some spare time recently. The journey she has been on in the last 2 years is just amazing. Truly amazing. It is soooo not my place to do a synopsis...but she could make a lot of money if she wrote a book and she has some great pictures too.


I spend a good part of my time thinking about how I can make the world a better place. Seriously...I know it sounds cheesy. I make plans, I intellectualize, I act reasonably (for the most part). This blog is a 19 year old girl ...who makes these amazing and unreasonable choices...shaking off the fact that what she is doing is (by our US standards...)completely insane. She takes tremendous leaps of faith and has changed the lives and saved the lives of more than one child in Uganda. It is an amazing read...and an amazing reminder that sometimes you have to go with your gut or your faith and trust that you are doing what you are meant to do.

In my life, most of the things I have done that I am most proud of and that have filled me with the greatest sense of joy, peace, happiness, etc....have been things I have done out of an inexplicable feeling that I am supposed to do it...that it is the right thing for me. My biggest tragedies in my life are the times (really one time in particular) when I reasoned myself and scared myself into doing things that were rational.

There is something to be said for youth and the underdeveloped frontal lobe! There have been a couple of times in my life when I have consciously thought to myself..."I hope Lilianna grows up to....". The first time was at the Ostrich Festival in some suburb of Phoenix..when Lilianna was one year old. All of th ostriches were in quarantine for some crazy ostrich flu and there were only emus there. there was a petting zoo in a big tent that was the most decrepit and stomach turning animal exhibit I have ever seen. I thought to myself...I hope Lilianna grows up to protest these kind of places.

The second time I said to myself "I hope Lilianna grows up to...." was as I was reading this blog....I hope that Lilianna grows up to find a way to channel her overflowing and unbridled love for others in a way that changes lives like the inspiring way "Auntie Katie" does.

Y'all seriously have to check out this blog.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chattanooga

Today we drove up to Chattanooga. We met up with a pair of fun women who are starting the process to adopt waiting kids from Thailand. Melissa and Nicole (who, by the way are not together..haha) met us at the aquarium. They met when they were adopting girls from Vietnam and their two girls are awesome. Lilianna and "the girls" as Lilianna was calling them...ran around together and had a great time. Zeb ran along imitating Lilianna like a good little brother! Zeb actually was really, really good. I kept saying to Keith...why couldn't he have been this good at Disneyworld...it is amazing the difference 6 months makes in the world of terrible twos! Benjamin was riding in the back pack and fell asleep in a great completely sprawled out way that was a tad disconcerting...I will post a picture of that.

Again...as to my usual form I didn't take enough pictures...ok I only took 2 pictures...that is soooo pathetic. Nicole was a photo fiend...so hopefully she will post some pictures and I can borrow them...or at least look at them!

I am a little bit jealous that they are getting going with their adoptions...while we have to wait until we are able to nail down some of the many uncertainties in our lives...you know....I need a job...we need to know if or where we are going to move to...if and when Aaron is coming home...little things like that!

As an aside....there were Kyrgyz officials in Washington, DC today and 6 families made our case for resuming adoptions from Kyrgyzstan. I am waiting to hear how that went...but I hope it went well...I really, really do. Here is my hope.....I get a job in Alabama, Aaron is home by Christmas, we start our Hague homestudy for the little girl in Thailand after Christmas, and I win the powerball tomorrow (because we bought a ticket in Tennessee!). I don't think that is asking too much...do you?

After the aquarium we walked around a little bit. I was surprised at how really nice the immediate downtown area was. We got some Ben And Jerry's and then got some fudge at a little old school family owned fudge shop and then walked around, across the river on a pedestrian bridge. It was really beautiful and very relaxing. It was a super nice day.

The kids were sooo pooped and they slept most of the way home (only an hour and a half drive)...of course they are all awake now and ready to go for a while and I am ready to fall over. Keith is out mowing the lawn right now...even though it is almost dark and 750pm. We are having lunch guests over tomorrow and we have some housekeeping to work on before bed.

On monday I start working in the trauma/burn ICU and my free time will cease. It is 30-ish hours on without sleep and then a day off and then another 30-ish hours on. It is going to be 30 days of sleep deprived driving and childrearing....very safe parenting. Yippee! I actually really do like rotating through the ICU's I think if they were structured so that you didn't have to work for 36 hours straight it would be a really, really valuable and enjoyable experience....but what do I know!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another example of my craziness....

So, as of late I have become very set in my opinion that our next adoption will be of an HIV+ child. Obviously, we are 100% committed to bringing Aaron home....however long that takes, but ever since I have become aware of the big picture of pediatric HIV and what it means to be a little baby in a resource poor country with HIV....I just can't get my mind or heart around the sheer ugliness of ignoring this issue.

I ignored it for years...in blissfull ingnorance.

It is soooooo incredibly doable to raise and love an HIV+ kid. The hardest part ....by all reports of parents of HIV+ kids....is the stigma and the ignorance of people. There are all sorts of things that adoptive parents worry about....attachment, FAS, transracial issues...these are real issues. Giving a child medicine twice a day...that is not something to stress out about. Kids will get picked on as they grow up...especially girls and especially in middle school and high school. Having HIV certainly gives other kids something to pick on you for....but the alternative for a little HIV+ orphan in Ethiopia or Thailand or wherever is to spend her childhood in an orphanage maybe or maybe not getting ARV's and maybe or maybe not living into her teen years. I think when we (as prospective adoptive parents) worry about every little thing we are forgetting the big picture just a little bit.

So I am 100% committed that the next child we bring into our family will be HIV+ and I have seen a little girl in Thailand I would love to bring into our family. She has an infectious little smile and I can tell would be quite a handfull (as all girls are!). That being said....we are waiting for Aaron and we have much uncertainty in our lives right now. Adoption Alliance would let us do a concurrent adoption...but our homestudy agency could not be a bigger bunch of money-grubbing obstructionists. Seriously, they charged us a $75 "document processing fee" to make a photocopy of one piece of paper they didn't have to do anything with. The social worker dropped it off at their office with the homestudy instead of mailing it to us...so they charged us $75 to make a copy of it for their file...seriously. They didn't have to even notarize it, sign it or anything! I loved my homestudy agency in Arizona...and here I have nothing but resentment and fear that they might somehow un-approve us. You shouldn't live in fear of your homestudy agency....and I am not really the paranoid type. I am digressing.....

The only way we could really bring her home is if Aaron comes home faster that we are expecting ( a miracle really), so we could bring him home and start a new Hague homestudy and I get a job quickly in Alabama (another miracle). I get a job quick in Alabama with a good signing bonus (also a miracle) so we could start a Hague homestudy for a concurrent adoption. Of course, she may still be in the orphanage in Thailand in a couple of years when Aaron finally makes it home....how sad - really. I suppose there are always options and alternatives that present themselves when you least expect them...

So now y'all know why there are so many new links on my sidebar about HIV+ adoptions and Thailand....because I desperately want to bring this little girl into our family. If anyone reading this is interested in HIV+ adoptions from Thailand...I very highly recommend checking out Adoption Advocates International and their Thailand program....it is sooooooooo affordable and by all I have talked to - very ethical.

If I didn't do things like this and feel passionately about these types of things...I wouldn't be me.

Today's the day

Ok all...pick up your phone and call your representatives in the house and senate to get their butts to the meeting with the Kyrgyz officials this friday...here is the call to action. I sent my emails and made my calls already...I may call again too! And by the way...I don't do the phone very well...so there was a lot of stammering and a lot of dreading going on over here!

Dear Friends and Families,

As noted in Joint Council's President & CEO's communication yesterday Joint Council has worked closely with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) to secure a 15 minute meeting with Congressional Staffers and the six families traveling to Washington D.C. to represent the group. The meeting will occur just before the Kyrgyz delegation meets with Congressional staffers. In order to ensure that as many Congressional Offices are in attendance at the two meetings Joint Council is initiating a Call to Action requesting the 65 families contact their Senators and Congressmen. Joint Council requests that all families contact their U.S. Senators and Congresspersons on Tuesday, May 26th. The purpose of your call is to request they attend the meetings on Friday, May 29th. Please note that Friday, May 29th is during a Congressional Recess.On Tuesday, May 26th we request that you do the following:

1) Call both of your U.S. Senators and your representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives:You can find your Senators' phone numbers and email address at http://www.senate.gov/You can find your Representatives' phone numbers and email address at http://www.house.gov/

2) Include the following in your calls and emails:"As constituents, I/we urge the Senator/Congressper son to attend the meeting with Kyrgyz officials hosted by Senator Landrieu and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute on Friday, May 29th."

If they have not heard about the meeting, ask them to contact the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute at (202) 544-8500 or Joint Council at (703) 535-8045.3) Send an email to everyone you called:The email is important, but the phone call should be placed first.Additionally, feel free to forward this request to your friends and family, asking them to contact their Senators and Congresspersons requesting they attend the meeting.

Thank you!

Rebecca Harris
Government Relations and Communications Manager

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's up

So...there is a whole lot of nothing going on around here...and it is the kind of nothing that is very stressfull. On my way home from work the other day I was stuck in traffic. I was stuck...like chuck. Sitting at a complete standstill. I thought about changing lanes...because the other lane was moving a little bit...but there was no real opportunity for me to get over. The one bright point, was that the radio station i was listening to was playing some killer bad hair metal from the 80's. So I was singing along at the top of my voice...and because of the music...was not minding the traffic as much as I might have.

i had a revelation. My life is totally in a traffic jam beyond my control. I am stuck waiting for Kyrgyzstan to reopen, I am stuck waiting to find a job for next July. there is just a whole lot of waiting for things to open up in front of me. I am in a life traffic jam. I can't really do anything to move the obstacles out of my way, all I can do is sing bad 80's hair metal songs as loud as possible.

There is nothing worse for me than being in the position where I have to wait...and then add to it the fact that I don't have any idea what I am waiting for. At least if I could get a job I would know where we would be next July and I could start making plans...I am good with planning. Keith is good with planning too and dare I say the uncertainty is driving him a little bit crazy too! Of course, with Kyrgyzstan I don't even know how long we may be waiting.

So in summary, uncertainty sucks...waiting sucks....hair metal from the 80's rules!


PS

If anyone here knows anyone in the southeast that wants to hire an anesthesiologist fresh out of training...send me an email!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Links

I have posted a couple of new links on my side bar. Advocating for Orphans with HIV has a really great list of links...blogs, videos, and websites. This is my favorite video...it is sooooo moving.

I have talked about From HIV to Home before...several times...I have just moved the link up here.

Project Hopeful is the organization created by the woman featured in the video I linked to above.

Full House, Full Hands, Full Hearts is the blog of the HIV+ adoption coordinator from AAI. It is a great blog for answering questions about what it means to raise a large family and to raise a family that has HIV+ kids in it.

My list of links is short because these websites I am linking to are soooooo comprehensive.

Kindergarten graduation

I am pretty sure when I finished Kindergarten there was no "Kindergarten graduation"....now there is. There was a commercial where a guy is getting ready for an event...and looking a baby pictures and little kid pictures and thinking something like...it seem like just yesterday we were dropping you off at kindergarten for the first time....you think he is headed to like a high school graduation or a wedding or something...and it is kindergarten graduation.

OK People...it is kindergarten. Although there was a little musical program...Lilianna is such a card...she was standing around talking to everyone and the second the music started she was all business......singing and doing the little hand movements...shaking her head. She was dressed as a butterfly. It was 4 different kindergarten classes in the program...then they called out each class and they stood in line waiting for the principal to call their names. Lilianna was standing...kind of biting her fingernails...then she saw us taking her picture and she was on...she started smiling and twisting around and posing...it was hysterical. I didn't get any really good pictures - unfortunately. I will survive!

It is amazing how quickly the kids grow up though....seriously. People used to tell me that when Lilianna was a baby...oh enjoy her now...they grow up sooo fast. I was all yeah ok ....but now I really believe them! Something about Lilianna's age right now that is so right on the cusp between little kid and big kid. 5 is a good age....I guess they are all good ages aren't they? Of course....anything that comes after potty training is especially good.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's day

Today...i was tired. It is true. I rushed home from work at 7am and we got everyone ready and headed to Church. Today, i set up my booth on pedicatric HIV and the church showed a great video I had given them during the announcement section at the beginning of the service. I had 4 people come and give me contact information and took some pamphlets. I am not exactly what to do with the contact information. I guess I will think of something.

There is an orphanage in Ghana, Hardthaven, that Anita's #4 is from and they have made it really easy for people to help them. Check out the how to help section if you are interested in helping. I want to set up a relationship with them and this small group of people who want to help. I also want to increase awareness about 2 main points in Pediatric HIV
1. How it is NOT transmitted.
2. How it is a chronic disease WITH treatment and a death sentence WITHOUT treatment

I digress.....

After church we went throught the drivethru at Jim and Nicks...yummm. and then I had a hot bath and ate a bunch of Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie icecream ...fell asleep in the bathtub and then took a 2 hour nap (also delicious). Played with the kids, we took a nice stroll around the block....I just love to take walks around the neighborhood with the kids. I just wish we had sidewalks and fewer hills.

In other news, we have been trying to set up some tutoring for Aaron and really wanted to send him another package and possibly try to get a volunteer to bring him something for his birthday...maybe a cake and a birthday party for the kids at his orphanage. I was informed today that we can't have any type of contact or provide anykind of special services to Aaron until adoptions start moving again in Kyrgyzstan. So that made us sad and seems a little ominous. There is a conference call on Tuesday for adoption alliance families in process....I guess since we are not technically in process we haven 't been invited to attend. I am anxious to hear what the scoop is. However, I think this call was initiated by a waiting parent and I am pretty sure that there is no kind of news at all. In fact, I just heard from the coordinator and she has not a single idea or clue at all about what might happen in the future whether it is going to be months or years or never. This is the first time she has said she has no idea at all.

So, we will wait and see what this week brings. You may notice that there are now some links to Thailand blogs over on the left side of the screen. I have officially joined the Thailand yahoo forum...definitely the first step in any international adoption! There are some logistical things we need to figure out for Alabama - but we have the waiting child list from a very ethical and highly recommended agency and there will be posts on this subject to follow I think.

Middle of the night trauma call

Somewhere...near my hospital....a mother will get a call that her son died today. Someone got that call yesterday..only it was her teenage daughter. I will not miss seeing traumas. It does remind me how quickly your life can change and how quickly the people you love can be gone. So, everyone enjoy.....really enjoy and hug on and kiss, and play with your little loved ones today. I know that even in my very sleep deprived state I am going to enjoy mother's day and I am going to take the time to enjoy the wonderfull kids that make me a mom.

Even if my house is dirty - which I hope it has been cleaned by the magical house cleaning fairies - Oh I AM a dreamer - I am going to play puppy at the pet store with Lilianna and Zeb - I am going to lay around on the floor with Ben and let him climb all over me trying to stand up. I am not going to do the laundry, do the dishes, cook anything or even check my email. I am just going to enjoy all of the mom things that I sometimes may be too stressed out to enjoy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

World AIDS Orphan day

Full House, Full Hands, Full Hearts

She has all of the facts. Now why have I started to care so passionately about this. Simply because of how unfair it is.

A baby is born....through no fault of her own...to a mother who has AIDS. Baby contracts HIV through birth or through breastfeeding and now if this baby live in the US...she lives a mostly normal life. Yes, she has to take medicine 2 or 3 pills twice a day...but she goes to Kindergarten, girl scouts, gymnastics class. She gets in trouble at school...maybe wrecks the car once. Gets caught sneaking out of the house a few times, graduates from High School, goes to college, falls in love, gets married, has kids ...makes her parents proud.

If she lives in Sub-saharan Africa, her mother dies, she has a 98% chance of NOT receiving any medication and subsequently has a 50 % chance of being dead before she is 2.

She is not just one baby ...she is 2.3 million babies. Statistics are great to look at...but even if it was 1 baby and not 2.3 million babies...this is tragic.

Worldvision, Ahope for children, hardthaven orphanage, from HIV to Home...these are just some of the organizations that can help you help if you are even half as moved by the tragedy of this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gluttony

Thursday is World AIDS Orphan day. Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed with how much I have...how much I use...how much I buy and consume....and how little so many people in the world have. Even though, on almost a monthly basis I feel go through a period of feeling ridiculously guilty that I drink a freaking $5 cup of coffee on almost a daily basis and there are mothers in Haiti watching their children die because they can't afford rice. Or mothers in Kyrgyzstan who are giving their babies to orphanages because they can't afford to raise them as a single mom. Still I drink a $5 cup of coffee on almost a daily basis...like I have done something to deserve it.

I give a little bit of money to stuff...is that supposed to make me a good person? What makes you a good person...good intentions....a piddly-ass amount of money that leaves your bank account every month to help orphans....making a trifold poster to try to educate and recruite people to help HIV+ kids? I don't do near enough to make this world a better place...
I am selfish, lazy, and very...very gluttonous. If you saw the ridiculous amount of literal...crap I have in my house you would be amazed...I am amazed.
I will be fasting on World AIDS Orphan day and I am going to put some serious, serious thought into what I can do ..... for real....that will make an impact on this world. Maybe I will come up with World AIDS Orphan resolutions to make a better world...like my new years resolution ...I will post them on Thursday and then publicly track how I do.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Awe...summm



Super cool and endless-ly youthfull Mala has outed me as Awe..summm. I am not quite sure why I am a queen of all things awe....summmmm....but who am I to argue?!


i have to think of 7 things that make me awesome.....that is going to be hard. I am rather humble ... for a queen that is. Seriously, it is hard because I don't necessarily think there is anything especially awesome about me.
1. I am not afraid to throw myself out there...whether it is an international adoption when I am a single mom, surgery resident. living with my parents...or deciding to randomly set up a booth on HIV+ adoptions at my church. Once I even decided to organize a 5K walk for an organization...having never done it before and doing it all by myself....that is crazy...ok...it is not awe..summ...it is crazy. Is being crazy awe...summ?
2. I've lived in every region of the continental US except the Pacific coast....I am working on that..but not until retirement - ish time.
3. my family totally makes me awesome. Little spikey head speed scooter Ben; the dancing, super-expressive, sly little Zebby, and of course the drama queen of all drama queens and reader extraordinaire - Lilianna are all so awesome in their own right...I think I get some of their awesomeness just by proximity!
4. I was once cool...ok I am totally not cool now...but once I was cool and that has parlayed into my awesomeness as playing guitar on RockBand.
5. The kids think I am awesome because I recently taught them how to play a dumbed down version of craps. Downstairs, throwing dice at the wall with our poker chips. It is all pass line bets (no odds) and hard ways....I let O play whatever one roll bets he wants.
6. I quit my job to move across the country to go to medical school when i was 30yo. Again...just crazy.
7. Have been able to stay moderately sane in residency while going from one to 4 kids...hopefully 5 soon. Keith and I decided on 7 before we got married...he may be having second thoughts right about now...but too late!
I think that most of the supercool bloggers I follow have been annointed queens already...but here are my picks:
1. Shannon we have been through one and a half kyrgyzstan adoptions together...she is totally awesumm.
2. Shea - like she is ever going to blog again...with her new facebook obsession!
3.Tina who is soo crafty and makes me wish I had the crafty gene (which I clearly do not...one time I made a halter top out of a duke of hazzard curtain...it was bad and sooo good)
4. Anita she is awesumm for many, many reasons...
5. Suzanne B she has been working on bringing her daughter home since I was bringing home Zeb - she takes glamorous vacations and tangos.
6. Brand new mama (x2). She is very busy but is close to coming up for air I think!
7. John Wright OK I know he totally has more important things to do than a meme..but he is truly super awesome and we all know why...there are lots of people who could make that list for him!
Let there be awesomeness!

Big Decisions


Tomorrow at church I will be setting up a display in the sanctuary to spread awareness about HIV+ orphans and the realities of adopting an HIV+ child. I made a simple tri-fold set up involving some old school cut and pasting and some construction paper and printed off some facts sheets to place out. Keith is hooking up his computer to loop the video on the A Hope for Children website. We were going to loop a much longer, more educational video called Facing life head on: HIV adoption - yes you can .
I don't know if those links will work...for some reason I can't make links embed in my stupid blog today...when I have some time I will figure it out! you can get to the Facing life head on video by going to www.positivelyorphaned.com and clicking on the link to HIV adoption: yes you can.
I am working on other ways to raise awareness. I have mentioned before...very briefly...on this blog how moved I have recently been by the issue of HIV+ orphans.
Even though i am a doctor, my perception of HIV+ adoption was this....
"Why would I spend money and all of the time and energy to bring home an HIV+ child to watch them die?"
"why would I bring home an HIV+ child, fall in love with them....have my other children fall in love with them...only to watch them die?"
The truth of the matter is ... they don't die. Of course, children do die....it is an unavoidable part of life...people die. On ARV's (usually 2-3 medications twice a day) children born with HIV can live mostly normal lives...they grow up, go to college, get married, have kids. This disease isn't curable...but it is a chronic illness NOT a terminal illness.
However, only 2% of HIV+ children in Africa have access to adequate medical treatment and if a child born with HIV doesn't get treatment.....50% of them will die before they are 2 years old.
OK.....WOW is what I said. If you are as impressed by these statistics as I was...please visit the website for From HIV to Home (www.fromhivtohome.org).
In other unrelated news....we got the go ahead from Adoption Alliance to pursue a concurrent adoption if we so choose. We haven't so chosen yet...but we are examining our options at this point. Although I have been very moved by the need of HIV+ children, Keith and I have decided that now is not the time for us to pursue an HIV+ adoption. Now is just the time for us to advocate for and donate to organizations addressing this issue. We haven't even decided for sure if we are going to move ahead with a concurrent adoption. We are just looking around and putting ourselves out there to let things happen as they will...if that makes sense!
To be clear, we still plan on adopting Aaron as soon as we can...but that may not be for years. I saw a blog today of a family that has been trying to complete the adoption of two children they were referred in May of 2005...it has been 4 years. If it takes 4 years to bring Aaron home...I will keep waiting and trying...but we want a big family and there is only so long we can wait for our other children....wherever they may be.

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power