Current Child Count

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

Friday, October 31, 2008


This baby boy of ours has an interesting tooth thing going on these days...gotta love it! And his sister's are coming in the same way so far, just lacking the 4th tooth to complete the dracula look.

Other scary moments or news of the week...

I told my Mom on Sunday that I couldn't believe it, but "it seems like this week will not have any major medical issues". Haha, famous last words. The very next night was the "colic night", or shall I say beginning of colic week.

We also have to schedule another surgery (that's two within just a few weeks, but who's counting), we have a baby with a mouth infection for the first time ever, colic for the first time (those two are the same baby actually), and have done some medical tests/exams that are new for even us. So, I wasn't exactly sitting around fiddling my thumbs.

SCARY voting process.... Yesterday my voting ballot arrived to BOLIVIA! Because it didn't arrive by the correct deadline, I've actually already voted by the "Plan B" route but am supposed to fill out this one, too. You should see the heaps of papers included in the massive envelope.... I was like could they just please make it a little bit HARDER to do my duty. No wonder this is the first time I've tried so hard to vote from abroad (all for Palin...).

SCARY the number of babies...check this pic out, changing time one evening at the Baby Home! I can barely even count how many there are.

SCARY the number of continual abandonments, and even two runaways the government begged to send us. We've turned down at least six the past week or so, including two today, and a five day old baby also abandoned under a tree. :-(

SCARY that I'm writing this type of blog on Halloween. My family hasn't celebrated it in years. =)

There were also many BLESSINGS this week, like celebrating our Ana's 2nd birthday, seeing two of our kids (including our 3rd oldest at 9 1/2 years old) go live with their new adoptive parents, getting incredibly exciting prayer-answering news on other adoptions, and lots of patient assistance from the Starkey Foundation in their low cost donation of 4 hearing aids for our special babies. As usual, a week of great highs and lows--it's just life with kiddos at Casa de Amor!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Even though we've had probably 20 or so newborns or small babies by this point, I can't say with certainty we have dealt with colic.....until now. One of the new twins initiated me last night into that new and trying world. A couple times between 10pm and 1-something-am, I pointed out to her that those are my quiet and peaceful hours to myself at the end of very full days, but she couldn't hear me anyway because she was screaming so loud. I tried watching an Andy Griffith show (sister Emma's DVD) on my laptop since my hands weren't free enough to reply to emails, but I quickly discovered I couldn't turn it loud enough to hear. =) It was one I had already seen so I practiced my recall ability rather than see if it had sub titles, haha.

In one of two quiet moments when she could finally rest a few minutes, lying facedown on me or like a "squirrel in the tree" on my arm, I researched colic online. Apparently between 4-6 weeks it peaks, and she is supposedly 6-7 weeks old. It also lasts at least three hours, and I think we had a good 3 1/2. Most babies also have colic at some point? Yikes. Even after being reassured, and knowing she had no other concerning symptoms, with her going hoarse (and me deaf) and hardly able to breath, I was starting to wonder if I should act on the tias suggestion to take her to the ER. In the middle of that pondering, I was considering calling my always-willing-to-help friend/nursing student Amber in Texas to consult, but noticed first that she had a new blog post. After reading that and laughing (and marveling at the irony of her timing along with my current situation), I decided to ride it out a little longer, and about that time G. fell asleep pretty much for the night...only not me, because although I'm expert at tuning out cries when they're outside my door, I haven't mastered sleeping heavily alongside a baby. And she was still a little fussy and needed milk every 2-3 hours, which I was careful to give letting in the least amount of air (hard when she gulps it because of the scrawny, malnourished baby she is), then burping properly, etc. That all amounts to a tired "mommy director" today, but it's worth it remembering the precious moments when her little 7 pounds were cuddled up on me, sleeping with those hiccups you get from crying a long time. Melted my heart!! (I would've returned her to the staff sooner but I could hear they had other cranky babies on their hands and could only imagine how G's screams would help that situation!)

Then the first news of the day was that the hearing for our first sibling adoption would be in the afternoon!!!

Just another note: anyone who thinks having twins would be the ultimate treat of motherhood should really try it first. :-) In the Baby Home, of course we're used to multiple babies at once but I've always observed that two at the exact same level developmentally are much more of a challenge than two, say, 6 months apart. It seems more like a multiplication rather than a doubling. (Last night before the colic episode, I had taken both out to a Women's Bible study.) Maybe it also has something to do with some of our most "high maintenance babies" in the Baby Home currently being all the twins! I'm not saying I wouldn't welcome twins myself in my next stage of life, but can't say I'd join the list of friends or mothers I know who really really REALLY want them. I can say I've been there, done that, and it was intense...and I'm grateful for our team of "mothers". :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trip to Chihuahua

....And that would be "Campo Chihuahua", Bolivia, not Mexico! I had four incredible days spent in a different world unbelievably close (relatively speaking) to Cochabamba. I "fit in" with the people living there, identified more with their culture and thought process, the food reminded my of my Grandma's southern cooking, and I thought much of Texas. Twenty plus years there had prepared me for the insects, the oppresive heat and humidity that persists into night, wide fields of cows, flat land, flies, beautiful sunsets, varmints....and did I mention the spiders?
I went with 5 other members of our church here, Cochabamba International Church, including the founding pastor/administrator and our praise team leader and his wife. We already have a member of the church living in Chihuahua for three months as part of an intensive mission immersion program and were able to check up on him. Our team's purpose was to encourage the believers in their new church, meet with the leaders of the church and Christian Spanish school they have begun for their kids (if the kids go to local colony schools, they are ostracized for not living in the legalistic, extremely oppressive way of the local Mennonites), and give some training classes in praise and worship. I also spent several hours tutoring an extremely willing student on the only keyboard for miles around.

We had beautiful days of fellowship and battles all night......with the natives! Mosquitos attacked me the first night with admirable gumption then alerted the neighbors. The next night, you would've thought I was bathing in sugar water instead of repellant (OFF at that)! They bit my eyelid which swole half shut, my face, chin, neck, fingers, feet, fingertips--anything not tightly covered and not already marked from the night before. But with the temperature and swelteringly high humidity, it wasn't exactly pleasant to stay wrapped like a mummy. I also had a bed mate, a lady about half my height and equal in width, who snored and seemed to think I was her husband when asleep. Did I mention we were on an air mattress on a concrete floor? Yeah, nights were rough...

But the days were amazing! Once I finally got more orientated by constant question asking (in Spanish and English, depending on who I spoke to) on WHO these people were in the middle of nowhere, born in Bolivia and yet the furthest thing from "Bolivians", and native speakers of Low German, the great need started to become clear. These families live in one of the very few "open" Mennonite communities in Bolivia, but they have multitudes of relatives (to the tune of dozens of aunts and uncles and up to 100s of cousins) still living in the abject darkness, implorable poverty, and tight chains of a legalistic religion and way of life. There are 42 Mennonite communities in the department of Santa Cruz and these form THE urgent mission field for the Christian families walking in light we had the privilege to meet!!!

What an opportunity I had no idea of to provide prayer, training, and encouragement to these farmers and their families so that they are equipped to be salt and light in this "hidden" mission field. If anyone has resources or books or links on particularly the Mennonite community in Bolivia, I would love to keep learning more. I doubt that with my hectic schedule I will be able to return, at least soon, but as our church continues their outreach I want to be more informed.

My little house on the prairie for four nights

The house above was this family's house till they outgrew it
(they live in a new house now, maybe twice as large)

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Twins E & E (arrived May 26) and Twins G & G (arrived October 3)

Without a doubt, some of the most insanely busy, full, emotional, amazing, exhausting weeks of my life have been during adoptions. This one was right up there, and it will continue through the weekend!! I think it's been the second busiest week of the year overall, after one memorable week in February (during the last adoption, actually). Caring for the most pressing medical issues, staying on top of hourly developments of the 3 homes/38-39 kids/19+ staff members, being with Juanito and his adoptive family almost constantly during the pre-custody visits (up to 12 hours a day), at night writing a report of the day in Spanish (for the judge next week), then tending to the most pressing emails and computer issues until midnight, and so much else..... It's been intense, to say the least! Every day seemed like 3 in 1 (or at least I needed to be in 3 places at once more often than not), but on the other hand, the days FLEW by as if they were only a few hours long. At least it felt that way because of all the pressing matters always at hand (need I say I still urgently need an assistant? or more servant-hearted volunteers).

THEN came today, Friday. We got a call about 5 month old abandoned-under-a-tree-in-tall-grass twins in the middle of everything*. Since we've shored up on caregivers at the Baby Home, and one baby left this week and another leaves next week (in adoption!), we said yes. In all honesty I said yes because they are twins...Denise and Amber, I know you're with me here...I mean, what could be better than 1 set but 2 sets? (But the other reasoning sounds better!)

When they arrived, same as happened with the last baby, everyone quickly noticed they were a wee bit younger than 5 months. Apparently they are more like scrawny, underfed 3 or 4 week olds. I say "everyone", because after only a small handful of times of not being here for kid arrivals (very amazing really, seeing as how often I'm out and about), I wasn't here for their arrival. :-( I waited as very long as I could, 2 hours, but I had to get to CDA II and Juan's family because they were waiting on me, and of course the twins arrived shortly thereafter and I didn't have a chance to meet them for over three hours more. But I can't complain too much! I was having a perfectly delightful Italian lunch with a lovely Italian family and Juan, plus their adoption coordinator who has worked in adoptions many years. We all swapped information and shared stories to our hearts content, in a crazy mixture of Italian, Spanish, and English, since everyone knew a little or lot of all three languages. Later we finished the day together watching some of the kids from CDA II and III (and Emma of course) enjoy s'mores around a campfire during their very special campout night.

Okay, gotta get back to proofreading the pre-custody report that the social worker and psychologist finished today, so that I can take it to court in the morning, so that the all-important second hearing is on Tuesday, so that I can travel more peacefully to Chihuahua (department of Santa Cruz) on Thursday with our church's praise team, so that I can race back for the next 2 adoptions that same week.....INSANE. But very memorable! And I'll appreciate it more when life settles into the "normal" rhythm once again, with not just one but several of our kiddos in loving families. :-)

The second picture: on our way to the pediatrician tonight, also with baby Jose in the marvelous sling. I was heading out alone because there was no one else available to help, but my Dad just happened to have time to take us, so that was helpful!

*Later said to be a (dry) riverbed?! Sometimes it's very hard to know what the truth is.