Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 17 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 7 girls

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reflux Surgery Update

As I wrote in this post, baby E has been diagnosed with severe reflux and needed surgery urgently. He entered the OR at 8:10 yesterday morning and the surgeon came out with a report at 10:50am. The surgery went well!

E was sent to a room at 3:30pm and slept alright last night, but this morning was in a lot of pain again.

He must be doing pretty well, because even though the surgeon said he thought he would be hospitalized 3 days, he might be released tomorrow, Friday!

Thanks so much to everyone who is praying...and giving!

The current donation count stands at $2,114, from 10 donors living in 4 different countries (US, UK, NZ, and Denmark).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Surgery. (Yes, another one!)

Thankfully our sweet baby D is doing marvelously after open heart surgery in May!

 Here are a couple recent pictures:





We're in the thick of surgery prep again though, this time for baby E (10 1/2 months). Since his arrival in February, he gets sick, then sicker. After many tests and a hospital stay, he comes home - sick. Then he gets sicker. And sicker! Back to the hospital, home sick. Repeat!


 A rare smile!

He has been diagnosed with several different infections this year, but mainly develops respiratory infections. Cold and cough type viruses are very common both in Cochabamba (3rd most polluted city in South America) and the Baby Home (the babies and staff pass colds around), but E seemed to have trouble to an unusual extent.

It has been so frustrating for our staff and volunteers doing their best, around the clock, to help this baby, and see him still suffering!


The "pre-haircut E"!

Finally, after numerous visits to many doctors, including two of the best pediatricians in town, a special study was done and E was diagnosed with severe acid reflux. He doesn't throw up to a large degree, but it's almost worse that he doesn't! The milk we give him goes back into his right lung every time he eats.

Earlier this month, we were told that he needed the surgery as soon as he was somewhat well again, preferably within a month's time. At that point he was receiving IV meds for pneumonia every 12 hours and STILL not improving. Finally, it just became too urgent, as his esophagus is compromised due to the terrible reflux.

Baby E. will be admitted to the best clinic in our city TOMORROW morning, Wednesday, July 24, and operated on an hour later.

Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, for peace and comfort for baby E., compassion and patience for those staying with him night and day, and for the rest of the funds to come in!!

Maria, our health coordinator, has estimated needing $3,000 to cover the surgery, even with the surgeon donating his time. Since posting the need on our Facebook page, $875 has come in through 3 donors (sending from Denmark, Ireland, and the US) via paypal. That's a great start but we need more!

Please let us know if you have any questions!




Sunday, June 1, 2014

Creative Donors

In 2002, the dream of Casa de Amor began from my family's Christmas card list - perhaps 100 names.

Now, nearly 10 years after receiving our first child, Casa de Amor is blessed with friends far and wide!

Some of our biggest cheerleaders are former volunteers who have seen and experienced our ministry in Bolivia firsthand. (Most of baby D's heart surgery donors were former volunteers, as I mentioned I this post.)

Friends Savannah and Kristin of Nashville, Tennessee, have set up a neighborhood glass recycling program that funnels donations to our children. See the website of ¡Muchas Glassias! for more information and Savannah's wonderful pictures. Their regular donations have provided everything from a refrigerator for the new girl's home to Christmas baskets for our staff.

My parents are also pretty awesome cheerleaders! They met Josh and April Samuels at their church. The Samuels have begun ellajude, a beautiful line of handcrafted jewelry. A percentage of their profits blesses Casa de Amor Children's Homes. Their first two donations have come at crucial times of need for us!

On behalf of our staff and children, thank you so much to these very creative supporters!



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Successful Surgery!!!!!

We have been supremely blessed with generous financial gifts, an excellent surgeon, and timely visits by dedicated medical volunteers.
 
 
The reward is that this sweet baby...
 
 
 
...has a fully repaired heart!!
 
 
According to the surgeon, this was his first and LAST open heart surgery. Yay!!!
 
THANK YOU to everyone who has prayed, given, and volunteered by D's bedside.
 
Elizabeth, a nursing student from Texas, has been here for nearly 3 weeks pouring her life into baby D's. Read her wonderful blog updates here
 
Katrina from the Canada, US, and Bolivia (she lived here for 10 years as a missionary kid), spent much of her recent two week visit assisting with D and other medically related errands at Casa de Amor.
 
Melanie, a pediatric CVICU nurse from Texas, will be here in a few days to take up the baton!
 
The Booher family from Oregon, our enthusiastic Casa de Amor IV family, will take care of D once he is released from the hospital during this critical post-op recovery period.
 
Casa de Amor is so blessed!!
 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We have a surgery date!!!




WE HAVE A SURGERY DATE!!!

Actually, a new surgery date.

It was heartbreaking to get so close to D’s original admittal for surgery (May 7) and have him get sick—very sick—only 3 days before. Instead of surgery, he was re-admitted to the private pediatric hospital with a respiratory infection and coronary heart disease.

We bailed him out one week later with a nasty cough and more meds, but he’s been doing very well under Elizabeth (and now Katrina Culmer’s) diligent care.

In fact, many different people have taken turns caring for baby D around the clock the past several months, often in total isolation from the other babies.

Kaley
Linnea
Lindsey
Elizabeth
Katrina
 
(If I’m forgetting anyone, let me know!)

Tia Maria has also given her all these past months.

Thanks to some great teamwork from Elizabeth, Katrina, and our favorite pediatrician, our new surgery date is May 22, with hospital admittance on May 19.
 

WE NEED YOUR HELP! 

·        Prayer Support! We’re going to be nervous until he’s admitted. The city is full of viruses right now and it’s hard to stay free of them.

·        Financial Support! We have all the money we need for the surgery deposit (praise the Lord!), but need a cushion for medications, post-op tests, consultations, etc. Our current health funds are depleted after 3 months of constant illness. If 10 more people gave $100 each, we would be in a much better position as we move forward.

·        Local friends: take a turn! We have never had an inpatient at Clinica Belga (the heart hospital) and have learned that someone must be with our little patient around the clock. Our current volunteers have busy days (and nights) and our staff is fully occupied with all of our other babies. I will be creating a schedule soon - please write or comment here if you can help!! 

For those of you who have been waiting for information on donating blood, we think that’s taken care of for now! The doctors have changed their minds and say we only need 1 or 2 donors. We can easily reach that goal amongst our staff. More helpful at this point would be volunteers to stay at Daniel’s bedside before and after the surgery.

Thank you for your prayers and support! We are nearing the goal of a healthy baby! :)

 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Baby D is Sick.

As we count down the days to admission (2) and heart surgery (4), baby D has gotten sick again.

Yesterday he woke up with discharge clouding his eyes, and as the volunteer and I talked about him, he coughing hoarsely.

Oh, the disappointment! This morning I sensed defeat in the voice of Maria, our over-worked health coordinator. The doctor gave him three medications and ordered lab work.

Maria has been unable to reach the heart surgeon to learn what happens now.

Please pray for God's perfect timing in all of this!!!


In other news, I just did a fresh tally of the finances that have come in specifically for this surgery.

Some interesting stats about the donations:

  • ELEVEN separate donors (some have given multiple times)
  • SIX different countries: US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and United Kingdom
  • EIGHT donors are former volunteers, and ONE donor will volunteer later this year
  • Average donation amount per donor: $400! 

Our current total (minus paypal fees) is approximately $4350. Our original goal was $4000, readjusted to $6000 to allow for more heart exams, lab work, post-op medication and consultations, and any other complications needing immediate funds.

Thank you to everyone who has given so sacrificially! I hope to report back with good news SOON.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Baby D's Heart Surgery!

 
For the first posts on Baby D and his condition, see here and here.


WE HAVE A SURGERY DATE!!!

Baby D will be admitted to the heart clinic on Wednesday, May 7, for heart surgery on May 9! He is still about a pound shy of where he should be, but is currently healthy and progressing developmentally. Due to the chronic ear infections he has suffered through, he has been scheduled for auditory testing. 

PRAY THAT HE STAYS HEALTHY!!

We are so grateful for the dedication of volunteer Linnea to care for D around the clock and get him healthy and strong. She leaves Bolivia tomorrow morning to return to Canada, but return volunteer Lindsey is stepping in to fill the gap.


 Baby D with Volunteer Coordinator Elena
April 28, 2014
 

Last week when I sat down with our health coordinator, I realized how many details are involved. Maria had just spent the morning on 3 tests for the baby costing over $100. If that doesn’t sound like much, it’s a lot here in Bolivia. One of the things she found out is that we will need MANY blood donors. (An estimated 16?!)

Friends and volunteers in Cochabamba who are willing to donate blood: stay tuned for more details!

On the legal front, since baby D is a relatively new arrival for Casa de Amor, his official papers for his “shelter” in Casa de Amor had not yet been issued from the minors court. That’s normal but in this case we needed everything in line before the surgery. (By law, we have 72 hours to request legal shelter for each and every new arrival, but social services and the court can take months to process the papers.) Our social workers (Rosa and our new staff member Evelin) worked hard to get this loose end tied up so that we could present a report to the court with all the details of the surgery requesting permission to proceed. We expect a positive reply—this is more of a formality before embarking on major medical treatment.

We are very blessed to have two medical-minded volunteers arriving soon, our repeat volunteer "Canadian Katrina" and a repeat visitor to Bolivia, Elizabeth from Texas. They will be a huge help with all the special care baby D will need, and also our medical staff as they keep up with all of the other babies.
 
Financially, a HUGE THANK YOU to the TEN different sponsors of baby D’s life-saving surgery!! Every bit of what has been donated for baby D is going to baby D. Yesterday I transferred the first $3,500 to Bolivia so that our accountant can access it on time. All of the staff is marveling at how quickly we are able to move forward with this surgery!
 
We do need more to be able to pay for his post-op medications, tests, consultations, and anything else that might come up. Click HERE for information on making donations to Casa de Amor/GOAL. 


In summary:
 
~ Pray for baby D’s continual health and consistent weight gain

~ Pray for a sufficient number of blood donors (enough donors will reduce the total surgery cost)

~ Pray that the proper legal backing comes through in time

~ Pray that enough money comes in to be able to cover any extra expenses


A few more pictures of our volunteer get-together a couple of nights ago, thanking Linnea for her service to Casa de Amor:

 
My house looked like a second baby home, with quite the room full of babies - four babies ages 6 1/2 to almost 8 months!
 

 So fun! All of these babies can sit to some degree now.
 
 
And finally, we would be very grateful for any special donations towards health expenses in general right now. One of our newest babies, little boy E, was hospitalized twice at two different hospitals in the month of April with various illnesses that he has probably had since his arrival.
 
We have spent MORE THAN $2,000 on medical bills alone the month of April.  
 
Much of that was due to hospitalizations, but also because of the continual sicknesses we’ve battled at the Baby Home. Obviously, this went way over budget, and follows behind another high medical expense month in March. The babies are finally doing better thanks to a united effort on the part of the staff and volunteers, but it’s made it hard to meet other expenses like staff salaries and utility bills, now due.

Click HERE to see how to give via check or paypal.
 
 
 
Thank you to all of our supporters! 
  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Baby D Update

It's time for an update on Baby D!

First of all, his diagnosis is a VSD (Ventricular septal defect) - and most of the symptoms associated with that - and a PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale) .

Currently, he is on two medications indefinitely.

He has struggled with repeated respiratory infections, a common issue with heart babies. He narrowly escaped hospitalization last week thanks in part to a valiant effort by Casa de Amor staff and volunteers.

Baby D currently weighs 4.8 kilos but needs to weigh SIX kilos for his heart surgery to take place. Pray that he begins to tolerate more formula at each feeding!

From past surgeries, we know that a little one going through such an experience needs lot of extra TLC. It's also best if the least number of people possible are involved to provide the best continuity of care. That's why it was pretty neat when a nurse visitor to the Baby Home was captivated by our tiny Baby D and asked if she could change her plans and come back in May! (Read her blog post on falling in love with our baby here.)

NOW the trick will be getting D healthy enough and big enough by May for the surgery, plus coordinating with the doctors and Clinica Belga!

At least we won't be held up by lack of funding. As mentioned in my last blog post, we have been told to budget at least $13,000 for the surgery and post-op hospitalization and medications. Tia Maria, our health care coordinator, was able to obtain a pledge of 70% of the funding from a Catholic foundation in our city. That is an AMAZING portion towards the surgery!

Donations to cover the remaining 30% have come in from far and wide - Australia, Canada, and the US. All of the donations have been from current or former volunteers with the exception of one family who explained that they understand the costs involved as they raise their own "heart baby".

At this point, only about $1,300 is still needed to reach our goal (yes, Linnea, a little more came in since you asked me this morning)!!!

Little D is a much-loved baby!

PS - For a few recent pictures, see volunteer Linnea's blog post!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Heart Surgery

Last month, we welcomed baby D to the Baby Home. It was obvious that he was very small and delayed for being four months old. He was closer to the size and developmental level of a newborn!


 
Our dedicated volunteers and health staff have poured extra attention into D, and he is slowly gaining weight and recovering from several illnesses. He is a sweet, generally quiet, little baby!
 
After several appointments with specialists, we learned more as to why D is not thriving. He has a heart defect that demands surgery as soon as possible. His life depends on it!
 
Throughout the years, Casa de Amor has received a number of babies who were found to have heart murmurs, and even one who needed two medications, but this will be the first time a defect is serious enough to warrant special intervention. 
 
We were in for a shock to hear how much this surgery will cost! Previous surgeries here in Bolivia, such as cleft lip or palate repairs, hernias, lazy eyes, etc., have cost us anywhere from 0 to several hundred dollars. This one is in a completely different ballpark!
 
The heart clinic told us to budget $12-13,000 for the heart surgery, plus more to cover any potential complications.
 
A substantial chunk of this amount is for the cardiologist. Once we are able to commit to a date for the surgery, we will know which pediatric cardiologist would be assigned to our baby, and could possibly negotiate a discount.
 
We trust that God brought us this precious baby for a reason, and that our team of supporters will be able to bless him with a life-changing surgery!
 
Please write Jennifer with any questions, or go directly to our support page for more information on giving.
 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New arrivals!!

Just as soon as I posted the group Baby Home picture, it went out of date!! On Friday evening (December 6), Casa de Amor got an early Christmas in the form of four children in need of a new home.

Introducing, according to age....

Brothers LM (age 5) & E (3)




These boys were transferred to us from another children’s home that is shutting down. According to the reports left us by that home, their mother was escaping a violent partner when she came to them for help. She was visiting the boys every week or two and wants to pick them up when she finishes studying. They seem like talkative, happy boys so far! The youngest needs dental work.
 
Tomorrow (Monday) we'll talk and decide if these boys would be better in Casa de Amor II.  

 
A, age 2 or 3



Little boy A was brought due to abuse, obviously. We have no further details on him so far. He prefers to be outside and gets upset when brought inside. His first morning in the home, he didn’t want to be touched by anyone and ran crying from the staff.


Baby V., approximately 1 month
 
 
 

This is one of the most pitiful babies we’ve ever had in the Baby Home. His size (2.3 kilos/5 pounds, 4 ounces) reminded me a bit of the triplets, but they were over a pound smaller at his age and still not as sad looking… His story is awful. He was admitted to a hospital in the campo (countryside) by his father and grandfather after his mother (17 years old) tried to kill him by rubbing poison on herself before feeding him. According to the 20 year old father, she then left him on the floor of their shack to die. On November 22, the baby was transferred to our city of Cochabamba for better care. He was released on Monday last week (December 2) but no one had visited and no one came to pick him up, so authorities were notified and he came to us by Friday!

For some reason, his skin is drying and peeling off in sheets. He needs a lot of attention, and I'm so glad that one of our volunteers is caring for him around the clock!


These two cuties arrived on Monday:

V., age 1 year and 5 months (?)


We have very little information about this little girl so far. Apparently her father was very abusive and tried to kill V and her mother. She hasn't spoken a word yet and cries a lot.


Baby F., approximately 4 months



Until we get reports, we know little about this sweet baby except that her mother has health issues and begged social services for help.

Pray for the adjustment of all these new babies and children!!
 


Friday, December 6, 2013

New Group Pictures!

Our wonderfully dedicated volunteer Hannah left yesterday, but we look forward to welcoming her back next month! I love the group pictures she got at two of the homes and thought I'd share them here.

BABY HOME


We received two new little ones at the Baby Home this week!
 
 
CASA DE AMOR III (GIRLS)


Hannah explains that the girls were napping before this picture and weren't quite in the mood for posing, but it's our first group picture with the newest, C.! (first girl at left)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Celebrating Life


Today our beautiful N turns ONE!


We sang Happy Birthday then Tia Maria, our resident pastor, prayed over N's life. I marveled over the turn of events since N's mom was nearly forced to abort her. (Read about how she came to us last year here.)



Happy Birthday, baby!

There are LOTS of cute pictures of her smiling and clapping and the other babies, but all reveal the name on her pretty cake, so I can't show them here.



Practicing walking. She can almost do it!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Little Kitchen Helper


Our dear F (just turned 2 years old) helping Tia Silvia this morning in the kitchen...



TOO cute!!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Visiting SPAI, an Adoption Agency in Italy

My husband and I spent almost two weeks in Italy in June. Our main purpose was to visit some of the twelve Casa de Amor children now living in Italy with their adoptive parents. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

(To read more and see pictures of the children, go to my personal blog, here!)



Found it! Looking for SPAI's office right after arriving to Ancona by train.

While there, we planned a quick side trip to Ancona to visit SPAI, "Servizio Polifunzionale per L'Adozione Internazionale". SPAI is the adoption agency that has placed several of our children into Italian families, the most recent being Juan Gabriel in January 2012. (This year we have had zero international adoptions as Bolivia's government remains unwilling to even consider renewing international adoption agreements.)


Ancona is a nice little port town



Casa de Amor is also very grateful to SPAI for the past several years of financial support. We thought it would be nice to go thank them personally!


Meeting Doctora Clementina Merlan in her office. She would love to visit Bolivia again, but with adoptions currently closed between our countries, we are not sure when that visit would take place - or when we will have grants from SPAI again.


Touring SPAI's office, full of momentos from the countries they work with



I loved SPAI's street, pedestrian traffic only