Sunday, August 3, 2014

An Unexpected Journey: Part One

I almost forgot I have a blog. Then again, I kinda forgot where all the buttons that do all the things in my car were the other day, so that's not too surprising. Where have I been? Let me explain.  Life since my last post in January has been a crazy, unexpected, life changing ride. I think most of you reading already know the story, but for the rest of you, here is a recap.  The draft of this blog post has become so lengthy that I'll have to publish it in parts. So, here goes...

On March 20th, we flew across the ocean to meet our precious little boy for the very first time, and to file our I600 paperwork. This begins the orphan investigation phase for our process. Next comes the visa issuance, and then the exit letter is required for the child to leave the country with their new parents. Since last September, the foreign immigration authorities have suspended the issuance of these letters to adopted children. With no idea as to when the suspension of letters would be lifted, we knew this trip would not be the one that brought him home. We knew that it would be hard to leave him after the 10 days we had planned, but for right now, we were just overjoyed to meet our boy! It would be at LEAST September 2014 before we could bring him home.

Day One

After about 26+ hours of travel, we landed in Africa! My emotions were all over the map. I remember when the plane landed, the jolt of the wheels gripping the landing strip on the same continent that our son was born... what an incredible feeling. To know that the next morning, he would be in our arms! The moment you step onto the tarmac in this country, you know you are in a place like none you have ever been before. The air is thick and hot. Chaos and confusion abound, but there is no time to stop and get your bearings. This white knuckled introduction to a world so unlike ours back home in many ways was reflective of our adoption journey this past year. Long, bumpy, nauseating, unpredictable, terrifying at times, but there would be no turning back, because the destination is worth it. Eventually, our friendly driver delivered us safely to our hotel, and the first leg of our journey to Jerome was over. Tomorrow was THE DAY.  Like a kid on the most epic of Christmas Eve's, the adrenaline and anticipation of the next morning kept my awake well into the night... and the morning!

Day 2

Finally, after not sleeping and not eating, and pacing the hotel grounds for hours... the moment had finally arrived. A car pulled into the gates, and out came a very sleepy, lethargic, and inquisitive little boy. He was wearing the Christmas pajamas that we sent him back in November. How sweet! He didn't seem afraid, but he studied us. He was very weak, and smaller than we expected. He weighed about 17 pounds. He turned one 12 days before we met. After checking Daddy and I out, he put his head on my shoulder and just melted into me. I sang Amazing Grace, the only song whose lyrics I could recall in this moment. I had heard that he loved singing and music, and he really does! Within the hour, Jerome's precious personality began to emerge. He sang to us, and "preached" to us. He does this adorable lecture type of babble, its the cutest thing! He babbles in the classic toddler way while his hand are raised in the air, or outstretched in front of him. Arms waving, and "talking" with such conviction! Whatever he was selling, we were buying it. It was love at first sight if there ever was such a thing. My entire being let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, there you are, dear baby. I knew this moment would come, and that it would be this amazing. You are everything my dreams have been the last year, and so much more." Jerome wasn't eating much, but we guessed that the newness of everything was just too much for him, so we didn't worry. He snuggled in with us on either side and drifted to sleep without much effort.

Days 3-7 are kind of a blur now. Jerome continued to not eat well, and was having no bowel movements. We got laxatives at the local pharmacy, but still nothing was happening. Very little was going in and nothing was coming out. He was spiking fever, vomiting, and screaming in pain periodically. His arms and legs would stiffen, fists clenched. I had never witnessed a seizure and wondered if this was something like that. Something was very, very wrong. We called for the doctor, a pediatrician subcontracted by our agency to care for Jerome and the many other children living in the small orphanage or "transition home." He had been seeing Jerome regularly in the 8 months that he had lived at the home. Jerome had had some other health concerns but was doing better in those areas, however, he still was not growing like he should have been. The doctor told us that he had always had problems with fever, vomiting, and chronic constipation. He suspected that he was born with a longer than normal lower intestine, and would need surgery to shorten it, but hopefully this could wait until he was older. We listened with wide eyes... we had never been told that J was suffering chronically, or that there was ever a concern that he may need surgery for an issue that we were totally unaware that he even had. We were in shock. The doctor continued on that it was imperative that we have diagnostic testing done to be sure. He stressed that Jerome was not receiving adequate care, that he was "too much" for the nannies at the transition home to handle and that he must go home, as soon as possible. We explained to him that we were here just for a visit, and that it was not possible to bring him home! There was this whole, suspension thing.... He hung his head, concerned. He told us that the next morning, we could take Jerome to hospital to have barium contrast scans of his intestines. We nodded in agreement, still trying to process what on earth was happening. Our first days with our baby were spent wondering what on earth was torturing his tiny little body, and speaking of, why could we see his little ribs poking through? Why was he so weak at 12 months of age that he couldn't roll over or sit up unassisted? J was not living in a typical 3rd world orphanage. We had been paying for his care in a private run center monthly since he was 4 months old, and extra, in fact, for a private nurse. We just could not reconcile it. We still can't.


  1. I love reading through these details. So hard but I know you will be thankful you have it all written down for Jerome some day. Still just so thankful you made that trip!!!!

  2. It took forever to get it all down, but it is so important. I left out so much. I think the same thing daily. So, so glad we made that trip!