Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A "temporary" addition?

When SEDEGES called a few minutes before closing time Thursday, I should've known they'd stoop to anything to find a home for the 4 day old in their office. They had already called us about 3 times in a row that afternoon, and every time I saw their number on caller ID I braced myself to say NO if it was anything to do with a kid. But when they said "temporary" I said long? The secretary consulted with someone in the office, maybe the director, and said "tomorrow or Monday, very latest". Well then, why not? Sigh.

As I read his papers before getting to praise team rehearsal late, I began to panic. The mother was not simply physically unstable as they'd claimed, but emotionally unstable. Great. Sounds long term to me. (Now we've learned she's suffering from post partum depression, and if not from the street, is pretty close to it.) we're faced with a decision of what to do, since we're three over in the Baby Home, and adoptions delayed. At least for now, the issue was helped in an unexpected way. The newest baby is in the hospital! Last night (Friday) on the way to a dinner/meeting with former volunteers who minister to street kids now, I picked up the results from his CBC and bilirubin. He was obviously jaundiced and I prefered to go ahead and test him rather than wait for the return of our pediatrician (traveling to the US).

Reading the results, I could tell the bilirubin count was much higher than with the last baby we tested just last week, and the pediatrician had told me only higher numbers required action. I decided to go to the pediatric hospital we've used many a time and do an emergency consultation. The pediatrician said yes, he needed to be admitted for light therapy. I told him I'd be back after the meeting and swapping out babies (I was out with a different newborn). When I finally got back at about 11:15pm, the doctors were again a little confused "Uh...who is your doctor? How did you know to do these tests?" I've been around this bush before, that's why!! It's so interesting-and rewarding-to learn new things every day about health and medicine and be able to put it into practice, for the good of our kids.

I need to go visit him now. He's actually in a room where family/visitors are not allowed to stay, otherwise I'd be there and not here right now. As I write I'm with a baby, not an unusual state these days. I took care of a fussy 5 week old until 4am two nights ago then was woken early by my cell ringing, which meant that last night admitting the new baby till midnight, I was nearly falling asleep while talking to the doctors and nurses. (It's crazy trying to answer their "background history" questions--I'm always like, what do you not understand about "I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING"?! I just met this baby 28 hours ago, and I would also love answers to your questions about his family.) I was so glad for the rare chance to sleep in today after such a packed week!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Got milk?

We sure do! Every month I write a new thank you letter to be sent to all who gave to CDA. Milk is the focus of August's letter! Here's a link:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I have a CAR!!!

Yippee, I finally own a car in Bolivia!! In June, three years and eleven months to the day of moving here, I came to the decision that it was finally non-optional. Having three homes strung out pushed me over the edge. I was spending a small fortune in taxis for the days when I had no time for walking/buses (almost always) or was with babies and/or small children (more and more frequently these days) or a lot of stuff, and that still isn't the most efficient mode of transportation.

So Last Monday night one of my prayer requests to our ladies Bible study group was to find a car soon. Exactly the day after, I was walking and walking downtown (thanks to blockades) to a hearing aid fitting for baby Benito, and we stumbled upon this car for sale! I talked to the owner right then and there, and two days later my Dad took it and other options into the mechanic with this one easily coming out the winner. It also got thumbs up approval from kids and tias alike! I've already had anywhere from 2 to 8 babies/kids in it at once (don't worry--the 8 kids was just to give a spin around the block!). We are blessed! :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's a girl!

Well......we did it again. This time the administrator and caregivers voted to say yes and I lifted my hands from the decision! Three babies within 12 days, all with their own unique, tragic stories and health needs. The new baby, 5 days old on arrival (the one at right in picture), does/will have effects from the addictions of her mother. It's maddening, to see this day in and day out. At least she's here now where even though we're seriously overflowing with babies, there's no comparison to life on the street! She'll have a new life now. =)

Update: According to data from the hospital, she was born on my Dad's birthday (August 14)! Strangely, out of all the kids we've had, only one other shares a birthday with a member of my family.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And another baby...

I think I should be careful what I read. Shortly before receiving our HIV positive baby, I read a book by a Christian surgeon who was HIV+. A couple weeks before getting the baby pictured below, whose mother is deaf/mute, I read a book by the daughter of deaf parents. Then yesterday morning, I read an article on a baby who died from shaken baby syndrome and the multiple injuries the abuse caused, and it listed some stats.....that came in useful just a couple hours later when SEDEGES called. In every case God was preparing me and my mind was opened to a different side of the suffering in this world.

I really don't have a good reason of why we said yes this time, having said no to another the day before. For once, we actually had forewarning that this was going to be a difficult case. SEDEGES said the baby was being released from the hospital from multiple injuries pointing towards child abuse. We still don't have room. Two babies leave "soon", but soon here has an entirely different meaning. And it had only been 8 days since a new baby. Anyway, we said yes and within an hour he was in my arms. He's about 4 months old.

It was awful reading through and trying to understand the many medical reports he arrived with (side note: we're grateful he actually came with so much background info). One from July listed 8 prescribed medicines and no less than 14 diagnoses (I'm translating, hopefully correctly, from Spanish): meningitis, seizures, hygroma, moderate intraventricular hemorrhaging, moderate hydrocephaly, generalized hypotonia, intracranial pressure, psychomotor delay, anemia, oral thrush, cardiac insufficiency, bronchitis, fractured left rib, and-finally!-possible battered baby syndrome. A couple weeks before a forensic report also listed multiple bruises, from head to toe, and that he was at imminent risk of death. By the time I finished, I was nervous to even have him in my care! He was also a little bit cranky...who knows from what? The main thing we notice holding him is how "floppy" he is, from the hypotonia, which makes him kinda hard to hold (although not quite as challenging as our Benito, with CP).

But thankfully, I was out till late with him at our pediatrician and he seems pretty much recovered from all the above. He still needs to visit our neurologist though. Hopefully his need for brain surgery, as listed on one of the reports, is wrong. Poor baby! He has a 3 year old sibling that I want to check on as soon as possible.

This is definitely the dark side of our work, seeing what humans in their sin nature are capable of. Still, I will not throw the first stone. Living my comfortable life, I cannot even begin to imagine surviving the incredible stresses, crisis, and trauma that make up the everyday lives of the parents of our kids. Apart from the Lord, we are all doomed to commit such atrocities.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New addition!

Just arrived! It's a BOY! He's about 2 weeks old and weighs 5.5 pounds. He's really long and yet he's light as a feather--and cute!! We were begged to take in two babies, but we don't even have space for one it is. Now it really feels like a Monday (common day for new arrivals) since yesterday was a holiday. =)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Yet more unrest in Bolivia

I don't like writing about Bolivian politics. Besides not always understanding exactly who-is-mad-at-who-for-what, I'm afraid I'll mistakenly write a rumor as truth. However, I can say with certainty that this week is crazy for three reasons:

  • Protests/blockades/strikes because of the highly controversial referendum vote coming up this Sunday (August 10)
  • Teachers on strike, also blockading and protesting (I can't remember the last time our kids had classes)
  • "Dia de Bolivia" holiday tomorrow (August 6)

Also many medical facilities have closed down and gone on strike, which always has great repercussions for us because we are so constantly in labs, clinics, hospitals, etc. And yesterday an important court hearing regarding an adoption was nearly canceled because Child Defense is on a hunger strike!

Of course today I had to do fifty things downtown before the holiday tomorrow, so my poor sister and I trudged from one side to the other--and back again! Blockades, marches, and parades made transportation practically not useful. My feet have blisters and red marks from my sandals, which were not so good for hours of walking. Dad got stuck inside the mess for hours at one point, with a caregiver and two kids, trying to get out using his car. Another two had to walk an hour with two more kids.

We're holding our breath till Sunday, to see how the vote goes and how the people take it. It could be v-e-r-y interesting across Bolivia. I'll have an interesting time here too--I might be caring for the 16 babies with one other caregiver for several hours Sunday morning, until the others on duty can vote (obligatory) and then make it to the home. No transportation is allowed on vote days, so they have to arrive by bicycle or foot....and at that point I would love to go spend the rest of the day with my family, but by walking there, and they live in a completely different part of the city.

We'd appreciate prayers for safety, peace, a good outcome to the referendum vote, and that all of the shift changes at the homes would go well that day! Oh, and that the medical and teacher strikes would be resolved soon!!

Monday, August 4, 2008


Our most commonly used phrase as a family must be “Never a dull moment!" With 36 babies, 18 full time staff members, and any number of volunteers of any age at once, well—that’s a lot of people to be responsible for! Friday night was no exeption…

Let me begin by explaining that the family who manages CDA III was taking their weekend off. In fact this time, while we had volunteers available to help, we encouraged them to take a few days off for a trip (Friday--Sunday). On Friday, I began the day at 8am with a staff meeting at the Baby Home and was busy until 8pm. As my Dad pointed out, I’d just worked half a day by this point. Well if you put it THAT way…

At 9pm, we were just finishing a casual dinner on the couch as I caught my family up on the day. I hadn’t even had a chance to think about what I’d do next when my cell rang. It was one of the two sisters watching the 6 kids (ages 1 month—5 years) at CDA III. I expected anything but what she actually said: "Is it normal for people to burn their trees here?" To burn, yes, but TREES? She said yeah, and it's approaching the back property. I started noted the concern in her voice and sat up straight. At that moment she started almost yelling "Oh, no, it's getting really high and really close. We're just leaving with the kids, okay?"

We sprang into action, racing out the door and speeding to the home, some 20 minutes away. The trip had never seemed so long! While we drove I called the administrator and asked what we should do. She said she'd call the fire fighters, just in case. I called the girls back on their cell phone and they said they were still at the house, just monitoring it from the treehouse in the backyard. At intersections, Emma sounded our siren (her voice!).

As we approached km 11 I started trying to spot the fire--and did! There were high, shooting flames and lots of sparks. All that appeared to be on fire were trees. As we turned the corner to go to the house, Emma and I saw a fire truck (literally just a big truck with guys in the back) and lots of people in the road behind us.

All of a sudden it was frightening as we got closer to the house. People had just started to stream out of the convention center that's on the same country road, and there were other people running on the road--some to see the fire, some to head the opposite direction. About the time we realized the fire truck was right behind us and we needed to get out of the way, I noticed that Dad was about to run over a group of refugee children--ours! We pulled over and they threw the babies into my lap and started lifting in the others, if just to get them out of the way of the panicked people, bikes, trucks, cars, etc., suddenly on the road.

After a few minutes we decided to go inside and grab baby Victoria's new formula and some more valuable items. Observing the proximity of the fire to their home, I kept recalling the story a couple of lawyers had told me just two nights before. They had watched an apartment burn down in a nice building, right across from their office, as fire fighters watched helpless from the ground. We were relieved that the fire fighters had arrived, but I didn't know how much confidence to have in their efforts. Dad said they had leaked water all down the road on their way, and they didn't even have a siren. My second thought was "this can NOT be happening while both the owners AND renters are gone!!"

As I came out with the laptop and kids' files, I nearly ran into Rosa (CDA's administrator). She had come with her family to help! When she called and they said a fire truck was already on the way, they were concerned and came to help us.

Rosa went in to get a change of clothes for the kids and I started deciding how to divide the kids between the other two homes for the night. Dad and Emma were watching the progress of the fire fighters, along with a large group of neighbors. The kids had been asking questions or crying on and off, so I started reassuring them and calming them down in Spanish. As we kept kind of waiting around and seeing what would happen, the fire fighters got the fire out, yeah!

Charity and Chantelle, the volunteers on duty, asked if they had overreacted by calling us. We said absolutely not! The entire area had come out of their homes to watch and it was kind of hectic there for a minute, not knowing what would happen. The girls were troopers and said they preferred to stay there for the night, so we unloaded the kids and babies and started the process of getting them to bed. Of course, tiny Victoria had stayed asleep through the whole thing. Baby Alejandra went right to sleep without a peep. The older kids were another story: Mayra and Marcus have bad memories of fires, so we had to take them to the back windows and prove there was now no fire and then they were fine. Poor things! Luis was just wound up, although that's a rather common state for him now that I think about it. Rosa got Noemi to bed easily. The next day, the two volunteers were flying home to Canada (what a way to spend their last night in Bolivia!).

We're so grateful that nothing happened and that everyone pulled together to help on a definitely-not-dull-Friday-night.