Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Baby Sinh's Trip to Singapore

Baby Sinh was assessed in Singapore and the news was not good. They had a surgical team standing by to take her into surgery immediately, but after assessing her, felt it would be too risky. Her heart is very enlarged and she has a huge VSD (hole). The Singapore hospital will only do free surgery for children who have a good prognosis. Sinh did not fit that criteria. They had no choice but to send her back to Vietnam.

When told of this news, a friend offered to call an organization she formerly worked for, called Healing the Children. This organization brings needy children to the US for surgery and pays for the majority of it. They have agreed to take baby Sinh's Echocardiogram to several of their surgeons to see if anyone is willing to operate on her. We are praying for at least one of them to have compassion on her and take the risk.

The trip to Singapore had one very good outcome--it enabled the orphanage director to see how serious her condition was. Prior to that, he was saying that he would not allow her to come to the US unless she was accompanied by her nanny and would not give guardianship to a charity to care for her. It is customary for charities bringing children for surgery to need to do a Power of Attorney for temporary custody. Thankfully, the director signed the POA, and I was able to forward it to Healing the Children. We are just waiting now for the Echo to get here from Singapore.

Getting settled in!

Hola, Everybody!!

I am happy to report that we are all getting settled in and Jacob is doing very well getting to know his big, crazy family. We are madly in love with him! He is a smiley, adorable little guy and is handling the girls' contant attention with good humor. (If you saw how they maul him and get in his face, you would understand why I say he needs humor-ha.) They carry him around as if he is a doll, but they are doing very well making bottles, feeding him, changing him, etc. They are great helpers! I almost have to ask permission to hold him! His stinky diapers are still mine, though. He has completed his training in the "Karin school of sleeping through the night" and thankfully, he is sleeping well. I think God is just showing me mercy!

Grandma and Grandpa came home from Africa and came over the next day to see him. They fell under his spell very quickly as he flashed them a big grin and let them each hold him.

Jordan is adjusting to the intruder...a bit jealous, but overall doing pretty well. He is starting to play 'cars' with baby Jake, and has 'held' him a few times while sitting on the couch. I posed them on the porch swing for this picture. :)

We had a family picture taken for our church directory about a week before we left for Guatemala. I thought I would post it since some of you haven't seen the kids for awhile. I couldn't figure out how to photo shop baby Jake in, so I guess we will still need to get another picture taken. (The boys will be thrilled beyond belief. You would have thought I was torturing them to get them to wear something decent for the picture.)

Thank you all, so very much, for your prayers. They sustain us. You truly have no idea how we depend on them and we are very grateful.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Vietnam heart baby needs more prayers

The little baby in Vietnam that I told you about awhile back, is in need of more prayers.

After a series of bumps, baby Sinh is finally on her way to Singapore as I write this. We were hoping to have her seen by the doctor who did SaraGrace's surgery, but after the little entourage was already enroute, we learned that Dr. Shankar was going to be on vacation.

Things are a bit up in the air at the moment, and we do not know if there will be a doctor available to assess her until Monday. I was given the names of two cardiac surgeons, but was not told if they would be willing to do a surgery free of charge.

Baby Sinh needs to be assessed at any rate, so that is the first step. We tried to have her assessed in Vietnam, but that proved a bit fruitless as the 'video' they sent of her echocardiogram was not actually downloaded from the computer. They took a video camera into the exam room and tried to tape what was playing on the computer! Needless to say, it wasn't very helpful to SaraGrace's doctor in Singapore who attempted to review it. The frustrations of medical care in a third world country....

We have been told that baby Sinh's health is deteriorating, so we are hoping and praying that we are not too late to try to save her life. If her heart has been too damaged by the high blood pressure caused by her heart defect, there will likely be nothing the doctors can do. If the damage has not been too great, her heart defect is one that can be surgically corrected.

Recent photo of baby Sinh

If you would like to pray for her, these are the specific requests:
**That she will be taken to a doctor who has a heart of compassion and is willing to do the surgery free of charge
**That if she is operable, the hospital would QUICKLY approve the funding
**That all the logistics for the group from Vietnam would be taken care of in Singapore--and that the funding for their airfare, hotel, etc., would be donated.
**That if God wants her life to be saved, He would intervene in a miraculous way (He already has, but more miracles need to happen!)

If you are interested in donating to help her, donations can be sent to:
Faith International Adoptions
RE: Vu Thi Sinh surgery
535 E Dock St. # 103
Tacoma WA 98402

I believe in the power of prayer...and I believe that my God is able to intervene to do the miraculous in this little girl's life. Our SaraGrace is living, bouncing proof of that!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We're home! :)

I was hoping to post some pictures of all the kids greeting their new baby brother, but alas...Jeff had to leave for Italy 12 hours after we got home and I think the cable that I need to transfer pictures from the camera to the computer, is in Italy with him. He will be back late Saturday, so maybe on Sunday we can post some pictures.

Jacob did well on the trip home--thank you for praying! The day was quite long, since we got up at 4AM and got home at 1AM--so were traveling for about 21 hours (they are 2 hours behind us). He really was a trouper through it all.

The girls are madly in love with him--he is going to have a lot of Mama's. :) They are all taking turns feeding him, playing with him, and exclaiming over how small he is.

I managed to come home with an unwelcome friend in the form of Montezuma's Revenge, so we are not moving too fast around here, but we are thankful to have Jacob home. Pictures coming soon.... :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Just in case any of you were planning to come to the airport to see Jacob, I wanted to let you know that we have a 4 hour flight delay out of Guatemala City. That means we will miss our connecting flight out of Ft. Lauderdale. The next flight gets us into Detroit at 11PM--and I'm guessing that none of you will want to be up that late! :)

Too bad we didn't know about the 4 hour delay when we got up at 4AM. Oh well....

Monday, May 14, 2007

Adios, Antigua

We said adios to Antigua today. I am so glad we were able to spend the weekend there. It was relaxing and pleasant-and I think we would have been bored out of our minds in Guatemala City. Antigua is a ‘happenin place’ on the weekends—with many tourists and local families out in the city square, bands playing and people just enjoying some time off work. It was a very festive atmosphere which we enjoyed experiencing. One thing we have never seen before…the horses wear diapers! No kidding!! I think the folks at Mackinac Island should take note. Whenever we have been at Mackinac, we spend the day dodging large horsie pies, which not only look gross but emit a very offensive odor. ha

Ever wonder where all those old school buses go?

We will be getting up at 4AM tomorrow (Tue) to catch our flight home. If anyone would like to meet Jacob, we would love to see you! We are flying Spirit airlines into Detroit from Ft.Lauderdale and our flight arrives at 7PM. Jacob will not become an American citizen upon arrival because Jeff and I did not see him prior to his adoption being final in Guatemala. Don't get me started on the logic of that USCIS rule......

We were able to visit the special needs orphanage today, that is run by Steve and Shyral Olson. Next to getting Jacob and meeting Melissa, it was a highlight of the trip! The kids are absolutely precious and get such wonderful care and nurturing. The home is called Amor del Nino and the Olsons have been running it for 10 years. What a stark contrast between this happy, clean, place filled with love and the hospital of utter despair that we visited the other day. The children are all bright eyed and full of hope of a future. AND….they are ALL available for adoption!!

I absolutely fell in love with little Hannah. She is eight years old and has OI—better known as brittle bone disease. Kids with this condition break bones VERY easily and consequently some of them end up with very twisted limbs. Hannah also has a younger brother named, Jose, who lives there with her. They are both in wheelchairs. Hannah was very shy when I met her and didn’t want to speak—although she speaks perfect English. After I joked around with her a little, she started to warm up. We went off to see the babies and when I came back, I stood next to Hannah. All of a sudden a warm little hand slipped into mine! Hannah looked up at me and when I kneeled down to talk to her, she said, ‘Do you remember me?” My heart stopped. I knew she meant, “Do you remember my name?” I was stricken because I didn’t remember…so instead, I asked her to tell me all her names. She had about 6!! Thankfully, it saved the moment and I told her that I would never forget her, or her name.

Soon the courtyard filled up with children who had been told a visitor was there. They came in with looks of curiosity on their faces. Shyrel introduced us and I opened the suitcase and pulled out the first bags. I wish you could have heard their, “ohhh’s and ahhh’s” as they saw what they were about to receive. It was so adorable! They all waited patiently—albiet a bit anxiously—to get their bags. Each child said ‘thank you’ very politely. They carefully and excitedly examined each item. Some of the children ate the candy first. Some played with the bubbles. Some put their Salvation bracelets on and began to adjust them to the correct size. No matter what they chose to play with first…one thing was the same…their SHINING EYES. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to be there and hopefully the video will reward our small group as they see the kids getting the things they donated.

Chloe….honey….Hannah loves the color pink. When she saw the pink poodle that you donated out of your stuffed animal collection, she wanted it soooo bad. I was able to pull her aside and give it to her. I took her picture with it and I told her you would pray for her. Taylor…the little cars you bought for the boys were a huge hit! When the boys saw those cars come out of the suitcase, they squealed, “CARS, CARS!!” (In Spanish—but I knew what they were saying!) They were nudging each other and pointing to the cars. There were only 7 or 8 boys, so they each got two cars. They were soooo happy!

It was pure joy for us to spend those precious few minutes with the children---and humbling that such a small gift could bring so much excitement. We have it within our power to do something to ease misery and spread joy. There are so many children in this world who do not have a Mama or a Daddy to care…to remember their birthday’s or care enough to know that they like their sandwiches cut in triangles instead of squares. .

“Will you remember me?” It is the cry of a child’s heart. Does anyone care? Will you remember me when you are gone?

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people….I have heard them crying…and I am concerned about their suffering….So now, go. I am sending you…’
Exodus 3:7, 10

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Mother’s Day is nearing it’s close and we have a few more pictures to share of our day today. Jacob is doing well—is very active and starting to get bored. He likes to get out of the hotel room and see things. Haha He had his first taste of whipped cream today on top of Daddy’s banana split. He LOVED it! He did not sleep well last night and was up a lot between 2AM and 5AM. Needless to say, we are tired. ha.

We didn’t do much today except wander around Antigua. We were not able to visit the special needs orphanage, so we hope to do that tomorrow. We are anxious to pass out those gift bags!

Jacob said, ‘Mama,” today!! He probably wasn’t trying to say Mommy, but it was still neat to hear him say it.

Cool Dad and Baby….

A family of street musicians...

City bus in Antiqua

Corridor at our hotel--it's much more beautiful than our room--smile

A beautiful flower in the gardens at our hotel

Ryan, Taylor, Jillian, Molly, Chloe, SaraGrace and Jordan--we MISS you and LOVE you! We'll be home soon.

Happy Mother's Day!

Hola and Happy Mother’s Day!

Yesterday afternoon we went with our adoption agency facilitator, Melissa, to visit a local children’s hospital. It is actually a place of residence for the children that we saw, most of whom had cerebral palsy. There were some other American volunteers visiting at the time, so some of the children were already out of their beds and in wheelchairs. We headed inside to meet some of the other kids. The smell of urine hit us in the face as we entered the dimly lit room lined with cribs covered with mosquito netting. Children were lying silently, staring at nothing. The hopelessness and loneliness were palpable. I spotted a baby girl lying silent and unmoving and headed toward her crib. On the way, I overheard Melissa and another Christian man discussing a little boy named, Alex, who was nine years old. They said he needed a feeding tube and was going downhill fast. I had no real intentions of heading toward Alex’s bed, but I felt compelled. When the man picked him up, I could not believe Alex was 9 years old. He was the size of a three year old and incredibly thin. One thing was immediately noticeable about Alex. He had an AMAZING smile. It lit up the room. Each time he was kissed or stroked, he rewarded us with a big smile. He could not speak, but his smile said a thousand words. The man put him back in his bed, put his crib rail up and went to check on the next child. Something in my heart turned over. I do not cry easily, but tears sprang to my eyes and I knew that God wanted me to pick up Alex. I put his crib rail down and pulled back the netting and said, “Hola, Alex.’ Ohhh..he is so precious. He looked at me and gave me a big smile that lit up his eyes. I picked him up—I don’t think he weighed more than 25 pounds. He was soaking wet. A feeling of intense anger swept over me as I realized that not only are these precious ones languishing in their beds, but they are lying there in urine soaked clothing. Could any existence be more miserable? I sought out Melissa, who took me to one of the staff and asked them in Spanish to change Alex so that he would be more comfortable. After that, I was able to take him out into the courtyard. When he realized he was going outside for some fresh air, his whole body squirmed with excitement! He was so happy to be going outside. This might sound odd, but when I looked into his face and saw his smile and joyful eyes, I kept thinking of the song, “The Face of Christ” by Chris Rice.

See you had no choice which day you would be born
Or the color of your skin, or what planet you'd be on
Would your mind be strong, would your eyes be blue or brown
Whether daddy would be rich, or if momma stuck all

So if you find yourself in a better place
Can't look down on the frown on the other guy's face
You gotta stoop down low, look him square in the eye
And risk a funny feeling, cause you might be dealing...
With the Face of Christ

Looking into Alex’s eyes, I truly felt like I was looking into the face of Christ. Each time I did anything for Alex, he would look at me with eyes full of appreciation and flash me a big smile. I had a bottle and was trying to feed him, but most of what went into his mouth, came back up or dribbled out of the side of his mouth. He tried so hard to swallow—but he just could not make the liquid go down, even when I just gave him a few drops at a time. I hope and pray he gets a feeding tube soon. The joy went out of his face as I placed him back in his bed. He looked so sad and fragile. It is heartbreaking that he doesn’t have a Mama or a Daddy to rock him and let him know that he is a precious little boy.

There were so many other children—all needing to be held and loved. They lie there day after day, staring at their mosquito netting and waiting for a volunteer to come and hold them. I came away wondering if there is something more that can be done for them? Melissa tells me that any donations would not stay at the hospital, but would be sold by the nurses. It is a helpless feeling to see the misery—to know that God calls us to care for ‘the least of these’ and then to walk away. Is it enough to hold them for a few minutes, pass out some stickers, blow bubbles and then leave? It sure doesn’t seem like it. Their eyes begged to be remembered, to not forget their suffering.

I had some sticker sheets left over from the gift bags we made (that we will take to the orphanage tomorrow). I gave one sheet of stickers to one of the boys and it was so cute to see how excited he was! Melissa blew some bubbles for him and he was swatting at them with his sticker sheet. He was so full of personality. Unfortunately, I do not remember his name. Before long, some of the other children who were able to operate their own wheelchairs, came rushing over to get some stickers. It was so cute.

Here is Roberto…he has a few stickers on his shirt…and he liked hanging around Melissa. One other little guy came over for some stickers but when I tried to give them to him, he could not grasp the sheet. I was able to tuck them into his lap, though, so he got his stickers.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Fiesta

There seems to be a Fiesta going on today at our hotel. The pool area is jammed with tents, tables and people. It's fun to watch! :)

Jacob continues to do well. He gets up once during the night and wants a bottle. I think at 10 months we will be ending that soon. haha (He will soon be going to the Karin P school of 'sleeping through the night without waking up Mommy'.) For now, we are just giving him a bottle and he goes right back to sleep. He is sooooo smiley and has a very engaging personality. He is getting used to being held constantly and now he cries when we put him down. :) We're already ruining him. ha. He can crawl as fast as lightening, so we have to be really careful when he is sitting on the bed with us. There is no carpet in our room, so we don't want to set him on the floor. He'll have plenty of opportunity to do that when he gets home.

I have really been enjoying the experience of a new culture. I am trying to drink in every bit so that I can tell Jacob all about it when he is older. Jeff says it is very similar to Mexico. The people here seem very accustomed to seeing 'Gringo's' so we are not a novelty like we are when we are in China. Everyone is very nice and they like to interact with Jacob. He always rewards them with a big toothless smile. :) Oh...he has one little tooth on the bottom. He chews on anything he can get his hands on, so I'm sure more teeth will be coming soon.

We are still marveling at how tiny he is. I put some 12 month sized shorts on him today and they come down to the middle of his calves. Too funny! I told him that everyone will think he is much younger and be amazed at how 'advanced' he is for a child 'his age.' hehe

We went to the open air market this morning. Very cool...a lot like China with knock-offs and the assortment of local hand-made crafts. The Chinese knock-offs are copied better, though. :) While we were there, Jeff spotted a young guy swaggering by, trying really hard to be cool. His pants were hanging way down so that you could see several inches of his boxers, like the kids in the US. However, he had a pink shirt on that said, "World's COOLEST Mom." Jeff has been chuckling over that for the past few hours. Obviously, "Dude no comprendi Englais" :)

There are some coffee plantations near here and the coffee is AMAZING! Ohhh...I love it! Starucks eat your heart out...this stuff is much better! :) And yes, Jeff is cracking the Juan Veldez jokes... Sigh...what will I do with that man?

We found McDonald's and Burger King but they didn't look anything like they do in the states. There is probably a city code here in Antigua for the way things look. They just had small signs outside of buildings that looked like all the other ones. We took the traditional picture of baby with Ronald McDonald (and thankfully didn't have to eat there).

The food here is wonderful! Living in the midwest, we have not had the opportunity to eat much 'real' Central American food. It is delicious. :) There are really cool city buses, too, that are colorfully painted.