Current Child Count

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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Random Picture Challenge 7.0

September 2007 folder, 11th picture

Can you imagine if I just left it there, wondering what the excitement was all about?!

Aw, that would be mean.

J is in traditional Cochabamba dress, C is "stuffed" to be a pumpkin, and A is cute as a...bug!

(gotta love it when people donate old halloween costumes!!)

Found the pictures highly appropriate for today. They are from the special farewell for Ruth and Katrina, our two very special and much loved kiwi volunteers for most of 2007. And now today our next two kiwi volunteers join us, Nikki and Alie, yeah!

Also, just have to mention that Katrina sent me a really sweet packet full of goodies that arrived to me yesterday. Thanks for thinking of me, Katrina!!!

I love the picture for today's challenge at 4 little men!

Now, back to catching up on computer work....

Friday, February 27, 2009

two more cuties

A couple of days ago when I found Baby A in this favorite Ralph Lauren outfit we have...

Baby A, 2 months

I couldn't resist, along with the staff from 2007, remembering Baby B in the same...

Baby B, 3 1/2 months

So of course I had to take this picture of Baby A:

And then he smiled!

First really big Baby A grin caught on camera (quite the feat with mine, thanks to the delay):

Then I got them side-by-side, because it was just so amazing to remember [now huge] Baby B in the same (newborn) outfit just a year ago!

Two of my boys...

As a sort of PS, yesterday afternoon we had an uplifting visit from a lady (lives in Canada but has relatives and friends in Bolivia) and her niece (lives in Santa Cruz, Bolivia). She has followed our website/blog for at least the past year and LOVES babies!! so we had a fun time playing with some of mine and chatting.

She has worked with special needs children and spoke positively of Baby B and his development thus far. That was so great to hear!!

Tina (with Twin E) and Jen (with Stick-Tight E)

(So now you know. If you're ever in our neck of the woods, you're welcome to stop in for some baby hugs!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

a couple of cuties

Since I haven't been posting many pictures lately, here are a few from when we took the 10 oldest toddlers/babies from the Baby Home to a first birthday party last weekend.

The big birthday bash was held at a Baptist church and was for a sweet baby that lived from us from February 29 last year (newborn) till last month when he was adopted by a Bolivian family, yeah!! National adoptions are awesome because we continue to see the family.

Twins E & E, 14 months and always in motion

"Get us outta here, we need to CRAWL!!!!"

You can just see 9 of our kiddos here (the 10th was in my arms, of course), and the baby adopted with his parents and older sister as they cut the gigantic cake (first birthdays, done right, are BIG affairs here!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

So TODAY Rudy met his new parents from Spain!!!!!!!!! It was just as exciting as always. I never get tired of this!! Had to talk to myself to hold it together as I headed to get him and bring him into his new parents. Then unexpectedly (can I just say kids are so unpredictable?!), our Mr. Outgoing clammed up at the door and made a little scene before going to them. Seemed like an hour but was probably, hopefully, just a couple of minutes!! All the adults staring at him with cameras rolling must've scared him a bit....oops. But now everything is going wonderfully and it's hard to tell who is more thrilled--Rudy, his mother, or father. We all smile at each other so big our faces are liable to crack! my very-healthy-till-now Grandma was admitted to the hospital for a possible stroke.

So today my Mom and sister Emma booked tickets back to Texas, for just 10 days from now. Ten?! What will I do!! Dad will go a week or two after them, straight to Tennessee I believe (that's where they'll live).

March would otherwise be a fun month around here. We have a constant stream of international groups, visitors, and volunteers arriving for short or long stays, which definitely keeps things interesting. Other adoptions are close to happening.

Now the rug is getting pulled from under my feet, quite literally. I'm a family gal. Homeschooling did that to me I guess. Or actually I've been told I'm kinda weird. I don't go out with friends, I go home to family.

I just can't think about how it will be, that first day when I get to the end of a 12 hour workday and realize......I don't have anywhere to go. The Baby Home will again by my first and primary home. I'll just walk down from the third floor my room. Well with a detour to hold some babies of course, but not the detour to get a good homebaked dinner or leftovers, talk to my family (often in Emma's room as she drifts off after a full day), plan the next day's events, watch a little CNN on their comfy couches, bake, or entertain volunteers.

Not to mention weekends (the ones when I have free time, anyway).

It's just back to how things were 2004-2007, my first years in Bolivia. It's not like I haven't lived this before. So why does it seem so....overwhelming?

About the only plus I can think of is I won't have the constant tug-of-war that is work vs. family time. I can Night and day. Without worrying about not being with them, or getting there so late.

I will miss Emma SO BADLY it's not even funny. Those who know her will understand better than most. There's no replacing an Emma in your life.

And did I mention how much I hate change...??

Well now that I've gotten out all that dreariness, I think I can move on to my next meeting--the one with my pillow ~grin~. Early tomorrow we take the three new little girls to the doctor, so better rest up for that one!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

one month

It doesn't seem possible that it's just been one month. One day, one month, or one year? Time just moves at a different speed than before.

In some ways I want to move far past it. FAR.

In another way moving on seems to mean forgetting. Moving on, and away from remembering days with Gabriela.

I'd rather move back to being with her. To trying again. Getting her healthier so that she could withstand a common childhood illness...

I still hate it. I hate remembering what happened that morning one month ago. And then the days after, playing over and over again what could have gone wrong and how and if we could have prevented it. Awful. Horrible. Nightmare. Yes, good has come out of it. But I still wish it all undone. God could have chosen another way to bring us together, to regroup and reunite in our care of the babies.

We just want our Gabi back.

Our cute little pair, Gabriel and Gabriela. New pictures to show of the two of them, growing. More pictures with twins E & E.

The caption on this picture and a few others in December 08 was "my babies". That wasn't really right to say, though. Now she's definitely not mine, there in Heaven with her Father.

I read this post the night before the three week anniversary, which was particularly hard for some reason: He Will Carry Me.

The distance between heaven and earth is shortened.

The song "Mighty To Save" by Hillsongs is one of my favorites, but the line "He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave" just didn't register the same way before that it does now. What comfort and hope!

Her twin brother Gabriel is doing well. Has a cough, but who doesn't in Cochabamba right now. Sometimes when he smiles and coos, I get distracted by thinking too much. Things like "He doesn't know yet, what's been taken from him". Or "How would Gabriela look now? Would she still weigh a kilo less than him or would she have caught up by now?"

He's a joy. So sweet...and ticklish!

There are so many others to care for. Currently 38, all with their own needs and our staff team striving to meet them all, care for them all.

That keeps us busy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Several of you have asked about the possibility of adoption of Bolivian children.

In a nutshell:

Certain children have adoptable status and others do not because they will return to family members, or for other reasons. As for the adoptable children, three groups of people may adopt if approved to do so by the court and social welfare system in Bolivia:

  1. Bolivian citizens living in Bolivia

  2. Foreigner citizens living in Bolivia for at least two years (according to date on first visa)

  3. Foreign citizens of a handful European countries approved to do adoptions within Bolivia, such as Spain, Italy, France, and Denmark.
Please note: Casa de Amor is committed to the entire legal process and thus CANNOT facilitate adoptions between families and children. We process and present all appropriate papers to the government for our children but beyond that are dependent on their decision.

(*Taken from the new CDA child sponsorship info)

As you can now deduct, US citizens currently residing within the United States are unfortunately NOT eligible for Bolivian adoption.

Theoretically, with the Hague Intercountry Child Adoption Act now up and running in the US, Bolivia-US adoptions are possible. However (and isn't there always a "however" in Bolivia), Bolivia has not granted any licenses to US agencies yet. In fact, they would rather cut down on the number of international agencies they already work with to 20.....although 22 US agencies have their papers in order to open offices in Bolivia. I imagine Canada might be in the same boat.
As for other countries, if no credited adoption agency in your country has a Bolivia program, then I cannot help you either.

Rather than bemoaning the fact that our fellow countrymen cannot adopt, we are very, very grateful that our kids have at least some options, and for the extremely dedicated couples who wait an extremely long time to adopt a Bolivian child.

For example, the couple that is just about to meet their new child at the Baby Home on Wednesday have been waiting for 4 years (5 years is the max allowed), and that's AFTER their papers got to Cochabamba. Sometimes the process before can take 2 or 3 years, depending on the country.

The familes also live in Bolivia 6-8 weeks to complete the adoption, so it's quite the process for all involved. It's hard to fathom the amount of paperwork that goes on at every level and we learn more of it with each adoption: us as a children's home, the couple, their agency in both the home country and Bolivia, the Bolivian court system, the child welfare system, Child Defense's part, the adoption viceministry in La Paz, etc., etc. We all have massive amounts of work to do to carry out an adoption, from start to finish.

So, that's the scoop! Even though adoptions of Bolivian children are not possible in many countries, if you are reading this and have a desire to give a child in need a home, please please do look into the many other options that may be open to you! Thousands of children throughout the world need loving homes with dedicated parents to overcome many challenges to living a healthy, wholesome, productive life.

"Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:5

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me, declares the Lord." Jeremiah 22:16

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us...let us not love with word or tongue, but with action and in truth." I John 3:16-18

The sound in my head

By last night this sound was so stuck in my head.

Baby E, or "little clinger", in her main mode: LOUD and protesting!!

Yesterday was even worse, which is hard to believe. Major withdrawal symptoms, perhaps? New babies, particularly toddlers, often bond with me or other volunteers quickly but not usually to this extreme. This little live wire is a cutie, but when two or three of the new ones immediately scream and want my full attention every time they see me (see below--they are all sitting on my lap/legs) along with several other babies.........nuts. No wonder I have a pulled muscle in my right arm and my neck and shoulders ache terribly.

We're also having quite the time dealing with the many many medications. As a rough guess, about 10 babies are currently being treated for parasites (new arrivals) or coughs (most of the youngest set plus the twins). Yesterday I made an unexpected trip to the doctor with two babies (alone, fun!) partially because we're coming up on a 4 day holiday weekend here (Carnival). I was so relieved I dropped everything and did that because little Angel, almost 2 months old, was heading towards pneumonia. We're closely monitoring him and hopefully he's on the right meds now.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: January and February are dreadful months for us, due to the ever changing weather.

Tia Sarin, valiantly administring the nightly dose of meds!
All the papers posted on the doors are charts to show who gets what at what time, how much, for how many days, etc. Volunteer Katrina helps me keep all this organized.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Adoption coming soon!!!!!

I told my parents last week that I felt an international adoption was near. Of course I constantly HOPE that an adoption is near but we rarely know exactly when one might begin. But the timing is particularly good this time. Since we have three new, it's helpful that two would give up their beds! (Today I move Brandon to Hogar II, which is now great timing so that he doesn't have to observe his best friend getting new parents, while he still waits, and waits, and waits...)

Yesterday morning we got a call from a well-known lawyer in town saying that Rudy's new parents arrive next week. Within an hour he had brought us laminated pictures of the couple to be able to prepare Rudy. Now in just 5 days they have their first hearing in court and will meet him!!!

This is really amazing since the judge with Rudy's case quit. But the other judge is now carrying on with his case (now if she'd just pick up our national adoption that's been so stalled...).

Rudy has been assigned parents since September last year, which is why we never moved him on to Hogar II, but FOUR TIMES the case was kicked back from La Paz for more clarification or proof of things mentioned in the reports. That is the new routine these days, as certain people try to stall adoptions out as long as possible.

His new parents, from Spain, have had their file waiting here for over 4 years. That means they've probably been processing this adoption for their first child for 5 or 6 years. Now THAT is patience!

Yesterday in the afternoon I told Rudy we needed to have a meeting--me, him, and the tias. A couple hours later we sat on the floor in the playroom with Maria, Rosa, me, Adelaida, and a few babies in our laps. After a few false starts wondering how to begin, Maria explained to Rudy what would happen. She said that God sends very good gifts to His children, and He has decided to send new parents to Rudy. He listened wide-eyed through her little speech and then grinned shyly as she showed him the two little pictures of his new mother and father. Since even before he was born, or abandoned, or living with us, those pictures have been sitting in a file in the court in Cochabamba, waiting to be shown to their new child.

This is going to be a fun adoption.

Throughout the rest of the day, Rudy warmed up to the idea of new parents. When I took him and 4 other toddlers and a baby to the pharmacy with me, he thought we were arriving at the place where he would meet his parents. I managed to bring him back from the point of tears, and he proudly showed off the pictures of his parents to several of our friends at the clinic. This morning at 8am as staff arrived, I could hear him yelling to everyone that he has parents and did they want to see the picture.

He sleeps with it, carries it around constantly, and loves showing it to us. Of course I've taken pictures, but for security reasons can't put them here. ;-)

Rudy's our little leader of the pack of toddlers at the Baby Home. He also leads them in loving and talking to the babies. In fact, Rudy is pretty much always talking. That's why when he's not here, we all feel it and the others constantly ask where he went and when he'll be back. So it will be a big adjustment for all, but we're so excited!!!!!! And next week will be super busy (as if things could get any busier) as we observe the new family and begin the next round of paperwork to complete the adoption.

A completely unrelated picture--just a cute one I snapped yesterday of Baby E while helping/playing with babies a few hours at the end of the workday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 4 Fun

Well, you know, fun until two had blow-out diapers. We had to mop the floor and I needed a new shirt and bedspread after those... (did I mention yesterday that they have a zoo in their stomachs?)

Baby A
Beautiful, mournful eyes, lightest colored hair. Cries pitifully every time she sees me, wanting to be held. Youngest of the three--doesn't walk and appears like she doesn't crawl yet (she scooches on her bottom to get around, mainly to someone who just might hold her!)

Baby E
Makes us laugh the most with her catlike fights and clinging and sounds, especially when she's mad or just wants to be held by someone else more interesting. Reaches out her arms desperately and starts to scream whenever she gets a glimpse of me, so she ends up being with me a lot! Falls asleep sitting up because she protests to be made to lie down.

Baby D
The chubby, big attitude (watch out if you make her mad!), messy hair girl. The least demanding of my personal attention, although relatively speaking, remember...

These are great "BEFORE" pictures, haha. What serious subjects! Baby E can be convinced to smile but not the others. Of course they started off the day fasting for labwork and now the medication for their parasites seems to be irritating things. Baby A was pretty lethargic by tonight. But overall, they are not too bad off for the conditions they lived in. Definitely only the strong survive on the street. But their behavior is something else!! The hitting, slapping, yanking, grabbing toys that they do in between themselves and to the other kids, even babies, is crazy to witness. We'll have to work on that, but...

Looks like one might be leaving. =( Was supposed to be today but the people didn't come. One of these girls has older siblings in another home and she will be taken to live with them. We'll see...

Oh, those dreadful lice

We got the best news ever today for our Rudy!!!! More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 3 with the 3 little......clingers

Again, to put it nicely. =)

Since the 3 new ones scream unless they are being held (and often even when being held), which might mean they get just a bit more attention than the other 16 babies/toddlers, I have noticed and appreciated that they hang on (cling) better than most. They are like little monkeys, or octopuses!

This is CRAZY: we were already struggling a bit with who is who since when we picked them up, it was supposed to be 1 boy and 2 girls and it was 2 girls...which meant that I lacked a girl name. I liked the name Katrina chose (Esther) and so we had the 3 names. Then the interesting part was guessing who was supposed to be who. We didn't know if some of the names were real or all made up, so anyway we divvied them up as we wanted to on Monday night.

So today a lady from SEDEGES came and tried to match names to babies according to the clothes they arrived in. It was cool to see that I guessed right on one baby, on who her (street) mother is. That means I know her birthdate, and that she has a brother a few years older (currently in another baby home) that we'll need to bring here now, if he's not already been adopted.

Now the names are switched around as well as new names given, so I am perpetually confused on who is who!! I've never ever had this problem, as even when 3 or 4 siblings arrive at once, they arrive with certain names and that's that. This time it keeps changing around and since we were already using one set of names but now another, and 2 of the girls look a lot alike and one has the name of a me, it's just confusing!!

My parents say they aren't even going to try. =) I say just wait till the dust settles and we know what we're supposed to call them!! They even had last names at one point but now those are going to change. I don't know what names to give for the bloodwork tomorrow and it has to be right as it's for the court eventually.

Also doesn't help that these current names are mouthfuls, with 3, 4, or 5 syllables each!

There are no pictures of the 3 today. Just too busy to even get one (that means BUSY, folks!).

One could've been 3 gringas (me from the US, Katrina from Canada, and Annette from Germany) with our 3 little clingers at the hospital. As we walked past people they would coo "ohhh, que precioso!!" and I had to smile to myself that "coronilla" and street people were probably FURTHEST things from their minds in that moment. Nearly everyone thinks the babies are ours and we have Bolivian husbands--not that we just care for them in an "institution". Suits me!

Another good picture--one smiled at me more than once after the doctor finished with her, and I caught a glimpse of another halfhearted smile. They will be so cute when they start to act themselves again and smile and laugh! There was definitely none of that when the doctor tried to touch them today. Yikes. They were like little clawing, fighting cats.

Another picture--me working at my desk with two in my lap. Our arms stay worn out--seems like we're always carrying around two babies at once these days.

Anyway, that's just a quick update. Please pray for their continual adaptation and our patience as they scream and scream....and scream.

Tomorrow I'll look into getting them tested for TB. Although a large percentage of Cochabamba's population has coughs and colds currently, I just feel like checking further for these girls since the street population would have a higher incidence of TB. They also get labwork in the morning to be checked out for about 7 different things. I always breathe better after getting back results...

Okay, writing about the 3 was just for a quick break and "debriefer" before tending to more work. I've got to prepare myself for an important meeting tomorrow morning, email some "business" notes to my parents (we were too busy the entire day to ever properly meet), and begin on a big chart that divides up all the sick child/well child responsibilities. It will be a marvel!! Will also keep me more focused on my strengths in the whole (overwhelming) medical realm of the homes so that I can devote better time to my responsibilities as director....although I love the medical part.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 2 of....adaptation

That's the nicest way I could think of to summarize the chaos that was today. Well maybe not chaos, but definitely NOISE. I had to be at House II most of the workday due to some previously scheduled meetings, then run errands, but when I finally was able to get back, I jumped right in until bedtime. If I wasn't holding two babies at once....then I was holding three. =) Or holding one of the new ones and driving 8 others and 2 volunteers around (we took the toddlers out for a spin in my car to hunt for cows and other interesting sights for a few minutes).
The poor new babies are most likely having withdrawals from all the toxins they have been exposed to all their lives, from conception on. They are cranky, screamy, mean, picky (about food and formula)........and yet desperate to be held, loved, and cuddled. If anyone reading this remembers when Yandi came from off the's him times THREE. Or Camila, who still has quite the attitude but was very difficult her first weeks in the homes (in a nutshell: "rules, cribs, spoons, doors, manners, WHY?!").

I just have a minute because tomorrow is another super packed day from start to finish (what a surprise) and I am a bit worn out, cuz you know how I said last night at about this time (midnight) that the new girl's bed for the night was that mattress? Well one ended up on my mattress, the most fragile and sickly looking of the three. It was a tense night. I remembered that the last time I slept with a baby was with a frightenly sick Gabriel on the day his sister passed away, just 3 1/2 weeks ago. Then the baby I was sleeping with, the one we chose to be "Carmen" (one of the names we had on paper), slept restlessly due to missing her mother or someone and a terrible cough. I wondered about the quality of her breathing and why in the world her heart was beating so fast even while she was in a deep sleep. I had to hold her in my arms or be touching her at all times for her to sleep, but her heart beating so hard and her labored breathing kept me awake and concerned most of the night. She would wake up at least hourly clawing the air and searching for someone to cling to....which was me of course, as I tried to shield my face when she coughed (surely it's not TB!!).

I had to wonder at the strangeness of sleeping in the Coronilla one night (the most "hardcore" street people in very outdoor, extreme conditions and situations of violence, abuse, addiction, sickness, disease, etc.) and the next night in my comfortable clean bed?! In my beautiful room, in our spacious and sunny home, in our loving family. Nearly unbelievable, and yet it happened! And at the same time, our hearts break for the mothers who, even if they are mentally ill or addicts and alcoholics, are missing their babies today.

Picture: The three girls today. If Tia Rosi looks rough, it was because not long before she was sobbing her eyes out while trying to hold and rock all three babies at once. She couldn't stop herself enough to explain to me what was wrong, but I simply asked "Are you thinking about their mothers?" and she shook her head yes as she wiped tears away--off her own face and the babies. She is easily our most sensitive caregiver at the Baby Home and has a particularly special love for our smallest and weakest. She is also a mother of a toddler girl close to these girls' age.

For those who read Spanish, a couple articles and one picture of the street people "round up" yesterday. So sad, and yet the future of these kids was only the street. Hard to know what the proper response is. Taking the adults to jail and the kids to homes was obviously a reaction to some recent murders and violent robberies by the street people, to scare them into "cleaning up their act", but we all know they will return to their ways sooner rather than later.

Separan a 6 niƱos de madres adictas
(the better article, although the correct number is 7 children removed)

Detienen a consumidores de clefa

Pray for Brandon, 3 years old. I'm having to move him to House II ASAP to help us make room in the Baby Home for these three unexpected additions. Today I took him with me for my meetings and we were all very pleased at how very well he did, yeah! I'll take him every day this week and then we'll move him over permanently on Friday. Well until he has an adoptive family...someday!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Everything Day ...and THREE new arrivals!

There are many days where we think "just about everything possible happened today"... I was already going to post here tonight about the many and varied things I got to do today, before the day got REALLY wild and crazy.

The first part of the day involved checking on the general health status, updating the blog's prayer requests, changing plans since Donna (visitor) was very sick all night and wouldn't be visiting the homes again today (also tell Mom what to buy her from the pharmacy), coordinating payment for cleaning products already delivered to CDA II, our accountant calling and asking when we can meet this week, talking to a staff member about her health, a lawyer coming by for me to sign some staff-related papers, punishing 3 year old Rudy (sigh), discussing a wayward child's behavior with the social worker, feeding a baby a bottle while I work, catching up on medical stuff from Maria and Katrina being out all morning, making an appointment with our pediatrician for him to verify a girl's age and prepare a medical certificate for court.

AND preparing schedules for two of the houses for the month of March, starting on February's e-update, creating new files and documents for 2009, setting up a few meetings for the week, recording December 2008's expenses, closing out 2008's financial reports and sending them to a couple people for review, emailing a British friend who works with disabled kids in Thailand about cerebral palsy resources, thanking supporters in the US and Australia for their generous donations, emailing our friend in Texas about a donation on the way from Spain, creating a new job description for someone we're about to hire to TRY to take my Dad's place, and attempted to finish reviewing sponsorship packets...but by then I was out of time.

I needed to meet the new long term volunteer who arrived from the US, and coordinate who was going where and when in the afternoon (doctors). At about 5pm everything got interesting when Katrina and I went to the cough doctor with 4 babies. Well, 3 babies and 1 toddler.

And then when SEDEGES called and said they had THREE babies for us, all around 1 year of age. We would've flatly turned them down except that they were taken off the street. Today. And it was past their closing time, and other baby homes had already received others today from this "round up", so...... Um. Actually it's all a rather long story how we ended up with these three girls. Hopefully I'll have time to explain tomorrow. But I think a couple are crying now and I have more things to prepare for meetings, so I'll go see if I can help. Till tomorrow, a few pics...

Picking up the babies (Sarah, our new long-term volunteer, Katrina, and me)

They were so worn out from their rough day

The bed where the three will sleep tonight

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Baby Picture Sunday....and 100th Post!

This week the theme at Who Says 8 Is Enough? is LOVE. Wish I had the time to go through all my pictures (well not ALL...that would take days and days!!) and search for the cutest, but for now I'll put up this one, always one of my favorites!

And our little Bolivian is being kissed by a KIWI, no less!
(but the shirt is from Ireland, how cool is that?)

Hey, this is also my 100th Post, wow!! That arrived fast. Now off to make some cookies quickly for tonight's volunteer fellowship...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Random Picture Challenge 6.0

This week's challenge from 4 little men and 2 girlies is to post a picture from January 2007. Since many of the many pictures from that month are of sick babies in the hospital or babies getting treatment in the Baby Home ("Hospital de Amor", we say), here's a lighter one:

My cool baby J at 6 months

Isn't he cute? He still is! I took him to CDA II with me yesterday (along with the newest baby) for some special time out in the kid's favorite car (mine!). He was sooo happy and sang some little made-up song to himself the whole way back. Now he's 2 1/2 and will go back to his father soon, if the court approves, but will still be with us 6 days a week.

Speaking of being "Hospital de Amor".......we took 4 (yes FOUR) babies into the "cough doctor" a few days ago and one (Twin E) is actually worse on the medications. This morning baby Gabriel threw up he's coughing so much....and he got the cough just today! So I told them what to do for now, until our check-up on Monday with at least 2 of the babies. Also several have drippy runny noses and the youngest (7 weeks) is getting the cold and has been very cranky since yesterday, including all night. Could it just be the cold, or something else??

This constant rain and the temperature extremes we experience almost daily here the months of January and February really mess them up. Yuck.


Happy Valentine's Day! (Even if where I am barely anyone notices, ha!) I followed a link to a new blog today, Imperishable Beauty and was blessed by their first post "Reedeming Valentine's Day".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gym Class!

No, unfortunately not for me....

For CDA II kids. Those brave enough to participate, anyway--all the girls plus Edgar, what a surprise!!

Is this great or what?! Our kids get to do the neatest things.

Donna Culp, an old friend of ours from North Texas, is a gymnast who has competed at the international level. And now she's here for six days sharing her love of exercise and gymnastics with our kiddos, as well as getting to know the work firsthand (and wielding a mean paintbrush). Amazing.

Donna and son Flint (16) yesterday during an intense painting day. In ONE DAY my parents, the Culps, and local volunteer Katrina (also 16) re-painted our former house II from start to finish! Impressive!

Made for a good project anyway while it rained, and rained, and rained some MORE. Rained again today (we even lost power for a bit) but not before 11 of the kids were taken on a special outing with the Culps, so that was good.

More pictures of special gifts from the visitors to come...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Aberdeen Goodbye Place"

In the few months she was with us, Gabriela wound herself around several hearts. Volunteer Elizabeth formed a special bound with her while here December-January, and her many wonderful emails about how she is processing and dealing with our loss (how much OUR babies are widely shared becomes so much clearer in times like this) have been food to my soul.

Elizabeth is from England but currently lives in Scotland while doing her doctorate. She just sent me pictures of…well, I’ll let her explain in the emails:

From: elizabeth
Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:50 AM
To: Glenda Thompson
Subject: Re: how are you?

....This afternoon, I'm going to the beach with Katrina (even though it's freezing!) [a friend who has worked with children-at-risk and lost one, as well], and we're going to put a rose into the sea as a sort of ritual to say goodbye to Gabriela. I wasn't sure about this at first, but I think it will be really helpful to do something from here that marks what's happened. I really couldn't have hoped to have had more support from the people around me - I'm so grateful.

From: elizabeth
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 12:31 PM
To: Jennifer Thompson
Subject: Re: how are you?

That is amazing about the roses! [I had told Elizabeth that I chose a perfectly beautiful bunch of tiny pink roses for the burial day.]

I didn't even choose them, as such. The day after your mom emailed to tell me about Gabriela, my friend Tanja came round and spent the whole day with me. She brought me a bouquet of roses - red, yellow and orange. I chose a yellow one for our little ritual yesterday, because I looked up the meanings of the flowers and a yellow rose means friendship and joy. (Apparently there isn't a flower that has the meaning for the relationship between staff/volunteers and Casa babies - "not a parent but acting as if you're a parent and sharing that role with a dozen other people!" Nope - no flower for that one, so I thought friendship was the closest thing. And I liked that it meant joy as well.)

After I got your email about Gabi's roses I asked Tanja why she'd chosen the roses, and she replied that it was because they were so beautiful and delicate and colourful, so seemed to be the right ones. It's amazing to me how someone who never met Gabriela can choose flowers because they're "beautiful and delicate", and somehow know that that makes them the right ones!

Our little ritual by the sea was actually kind of funny in some ways. I hadn't thought through the practicalities of putting a flower in the North Sea in January! The sea was really wild, and the tide was in. At first, I put it on the beach, thinking the tide would come in and take it out, but it wasn't coming in far enough so I had to re-position it in a place on the other side of some rocks, where the water was deeper. And the whole time the waves would come crashing against the rocks, and we had to move backwards pretty fast on more than one occasion! Another thing I hadn't thought about was what would happen to the rose once it was in the water. I just imagined it disappearing, but of course in the sea that isn't what happened. It got pulled out to sea, and then the tide brought it back again, then it got pulled out, then brought back again. I was really touched by that because it seemed to symbolise, in a way I hadn't anticipated, what this whole process is like, because the hurt can sort of fade away for a little while, but then comes crashing back, then fades away again.... In fact, your mom wrote in her email that you all find you're going through "waves" of grief. Well, I got that shown to me in a literal way(!), and found it a helpful image. And it's good that, even though I can't visit a grave, I now have a place that sort of serves that purpose for me.

I was just looking at your update on Gabriel. I could imagine you just wanting to keep him with you all the time, and just hug him constantly! I think that's one of the things that's pulling me in that direction - just the need to hold the babies, especially Gabriel. But I'm actually doing pretty well on that front from here. Katrina, who came with me to the sea yesterday, has a 4 month old baby boy, Duncan, and they are very happy for me to hug him for hours on end! In fact, I had him with me during church this morning, as I cried my way through the service! The last time I had a little baby with me in church it was Gabriela.

Anyway, I should let you get on with cuddling whichever baby I'm sure you have!

There are lots of prayers coming from this direction for you and the staff.


From: elizabeth
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:45 PM
To: Jennifer Thompson
Subject: Beach photos

On Friday I went to visit Gabi's "Aberdeen goodbye place", where we put the rose. It was an odd thing, going to the beach in the snow! It was freezing cold, obviously, but I liked that that meant there was no one else around. I took some photos of the place with my phone (which is why they're not too good quality), and if you felt like seeing them, here they are! It is a wonderfully peaceful place...

Thank you, Tia Elizabeth!

Thanks also to volunteer Melanie who arrived just a couple days after the twins and also grew close to them, taking them around to doctors with me (and church), and all the other friends, visitors, former volunteers, and potential volunteers who have walked through this with us.

As an aside, I don't know how all this happened to fall on today, but: for the first time, I'm wearing what I wore the day Gabriela died, visitors arrived this morning from Texas (the last time was also January 23), the sky continues to cloud up and now it's very gloomy and cold out and will rain, Maria (social work assistant) chose today to work on some papers that we have to change to reflect Gabriela's passing. I'm also cleaning off my desk and her picture seems to turn up in every stack of paper...

11:05pm update

I just got done working (although still want to review some sponsorship packets before bed) and have two things to report for prayer covering:

1) For the dear lady who arrived today with her 16 year old son--her sister-in-law passed away sometime last night. Now they are looking at their options on getting back to Texas quickly. Pray for comfort and wisdom for their family.

2) I was called out to CDA III tonight to check on baby Victoria (7 months). It's a toss up for me, if she has mosquito bites or chicken pox, or actually both. Due to some other factors that usually preclude chicken pox and a couple suspicious spots, I made the decision to go ahead and start her on acyclovir every 6 hours. Better safe than sorry, and it makes a huge difference when started ASAP. I really really really hope she does not have it though, and that the children there somehow escape the scourge!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday morning news (again)...

Abigail and Angel at CDA II both have chicken pox and are feeling badly so didn't go to kindergarten today. According to caregivers, Edgar (soon to be 4) is getting it AGAIN. Argh... I'll go for a staff meeting later today and will see for myself.

Since discovering on Christmas Eve that the new toddler had it, I expected two months for it to go around (as it did in 2007), so we're still within that estimation but I can't tell you how much we're ready to be done with this!!!

CDA III is still fine.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hellllooo out there

So, um…..where was I? Haven’t posted in a while. A few things hit. At once.

A judge (1 of 2 we work with regularly) resigned on Thursday and now the lawyer for one of our kids is rushing papers through. That had big repercussions for us on Friday as we scrambled wildly to do labs and obtain a medical report.

Silly but important things on my car were acting up AGAIN (like not being able to open the little door to gas up…..kinda bad when you’re low AND there’s a shortage in the city).

A bus hit my car while my Dad and sister took it to the mechanic. So then they had to go to the bus driver’s mechanic as well (that’s the way you fix up things here in Bolivia…not much talk of insurance or calling police, ha!).

Five people from social services showed up on my doorstep to meet 3 of the kids for their adoption papers…….never mind that 1 wasn’t present (we brought her in ASAP from CDA III, delayed slightly due to a wreck on the main road).

Social services can’t afford phone calls right now so we are completely in the dark as to communicating with them! Makes things REALLY interesting! They told us they were actually bringing us a 3 year old boy on that same totally hectic afternoon but at the last minute took him somewhere else. Yikes!

Monthly meeting with the accountant which I barely had time for, cuz…

Esteban was in the hospital 3 days recuperating from a particularly vicious attack of parasites. We got him out on Saturday around midday, only to have his same problem (vomiting) return on the drive home!! He’s a bit better now—slowly but surely. Hopefully we won’t have to run him back in for anything.

Thursday and Friday my Mom was stuck in her house dealing with shippers packing stuff they are shipping back to the US.

Annette, a nurse from Germany who has lived all over the world working and serving, visited us on Saturday. It was nice chatting with her. We have both taken the same course, Children With Hope, although in different countries at different times.

With Annette and my sister Emma, I picked up baby Angel from the family where he’s been staying during the chicken pox outbreak. So amazingly and wonderfully, he got very few spots (maybe 20 at the peak) and never gave us reason to worry about complications. WHAT A RELIEF!!!

…..And I'll stop there!

While much of that was going on, I was supposed to be at a women’s retreat. I haven’t been at one of those in a while. Like YEARS. I almost never made it on the first half day (Friday). It was nuts and I was beginning to hate the phrase "women's retreat" because I was gonna need a retreat just trying to GET to it!! My Mom and I did catch the end and the first session, then we left. I hadn’t had one spare minute to pack even a toothbrush on Friday!

Saturday I caught all the sessions, amazingly, even though I was gone for almost 5 hours in the middle of the day to be with Esteban, Annette, and baby Angel…and pack quickly to spend the 2nd night on site. (I'm grateful to my Dad and volunteer Katrina for spending nearly the entire morning getting Esteban out of the hospital so that I could catch the first session of the day.)

The retreat was great!!! A huge blessing. I wish I had had more chance to fellowship with the missionary ladies from all over Bolivia, many of them serving here 10, 20, or even many more years, but the sessions couldn’t have been timelier for me. The main speaker, Hilary Price from England (husbad is pastor of the People's Church in Canada), shared on REST. That’s my word for 2009!

She spoke from Matthew 11:29 ("Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls") and John 15 (abiding in the vine). From hearing testimonies, the session on having your "secret place" with God seemed to be the most impactful!

Then the breakout session I chose was on burn out. Oh yeah, can relate with that one. In fact, the 30 or so ladies listening and participating seemed to be a little TOO up on the term, according to the workshop speaker, a former missionary to Africa. We had no problem coming up with all sorts of spot-on definitions and phrases to define burn out, stress, and overwork. Oops.

SOOO...that in a nutshell is the craziness of our past few days!! This week will be full as well as I catch up and tune into the other babies to see what they need (a few have worsening coughs), visitors arriving from Texas, etc., etc. Never a dull moment!!

You know it's been nuts when I haven't even had time to take pictures, much less post them, but I did get a silly one of a couple of my boys yesterday and will post that later tonight when I leave my family and get back to the Baby Home...

Here it is! Toddlers B & R entertaining themselves (and the others) while they waited their turn for baths (those are their shirts around their waists, and B is wearing one of the girl's shoes).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cleaning Day!! ....etc.

At last: the long anticipated "cleaning day" at the Baby Home! Well for me anyway, although I think some caregivers were equally as ready to sanitize this place and "re-enter" after all the viruses and junk that have gone around.

A few staff members stayed back to clean from top to bottom, with special focus on cribs, baby bouncers, and toys, things that don't always get such a thorough cleaning but should.

The rest of us loaded up in my Dad's car to take the 14 babies currently in the Baby Home to CDA II for a morning spent playing outside in the sunshine. You can't beat 14 babies and 6 adults crammed in one SUV for a total of nearly an hour! A couple blockades and detours due to construction also kept things interesting. But other than Luz, 1 1/2, throwing up a couple times in the car (I really suspect motion sickness by now) and Brayan, 1 1/2, being in a bad mood and Belinda, 1 1/2, screaming almost constantly (she hates changes to her routine), all had a great time. I always say being 1 year old is harder than being 2..... Of course we only have ONE 2 year old currently and SIX 1 year olds at the Baby Home.

Okay, just wanted to put up a quick post to say something since I've had almost zero computer time, and to explain what's going on:

I feel like I have babies and kids scattered all over this city. Just getting around to check on all of them every couple days makes office work almost impossible (and then spending all evening till late in ER waiting rooms or the hospital doesn't help either).

Yesterday I finally made it to CDA III for some catch-up time, bearing the formula they needed (30 minutes late for Victoria's bottle, oops! didn't know my arrival was so crucial).

My family and I "visited" Gabriela during a second memorial service at her gravesite. Very good friends of our family, missionaries here in Bolivia, lost their baby on Saturday (miscarriage) and we are sharing Gabi's spot in the cemetery with them. We are so glad to be able to do that small thing to bless their family, however bittersweet. God's timing is always right.

Today I was at CDA II for just the second time this week, but that's the best I could do.

Now, as soon as my clothes finish washing (haven't had a chance in two weeks to wash), I am heading to the hospital to relieve volunteer Katrina and take my shift with baby Esteban. He's very sick with some bug and it finally came down to admitting him yesterday. :-( When our chubby Esteban refuses all food and formula, you know something is wrong. He's had bouts of vomiting and diarrhea ever since the chicken pox, but since Tuesday has been very ill.

Once my family is available to stay with him in the evening, I'll check on how baby Angel is doing (good so far, PTL!!) and the family he is with then race to praise team rehearsal. From there, either the hospital or back here (Baby Home) to have a little computer work time...and maybe upload pictures.

It would be super nice to have my car back during all this craziness. A couple afternoons ago when I got out at the orthopedic specialist with two toddlers and Katrina, my window would not roll up. This is the second time to have that same issue. Last I heard, the mechanic is still hunting for the part to fix it.

Thanks for your prayers!!

2/8/09 picture addition: The toddlers and babies roaming around during our outing to CDA II.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday morning news...

The new baby (Angel) has chicken pox.

*UPDATE, 6:05pm: Our pediatrician is concerned, but for now we're not admitting him. Any funny stuff though, and we'll re-evaluate (cough or congestion, high fever, overabundance of spots, very sick).

We realize now that the tiny spot on his forehead yesterday was the quiet beginning of his chicken pox (15 spots by this morning), and I very stupidly let the kids from CDA III hug and kiss on him a minute as they were leaving church. Arghh. Now our HIV+ toddler might need another round of acyclovir! It is so hard to keep everyone separate. I've already changed clothes to be with the "mother" of CDA III at Bible study tonight, although it might be too late now.

Thanks to all for your concern. We'll pray very hard that he has a very light case!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

music, and healing, and dancing

I always love listening (or playing to) praise and worship music, but lately it's been particularly soothing and uplifting.

Usually I pick what I listen to, but God definitely picked the most appropriate songs for me a couple weeks back via our praise team at church! Look at this:

Blessed Be Your Name (by Chris & Beth Tomlin)
It Is Well With My Soul (written by Horatio Spafford in 1873 as he passed over the spot where his four daughters had perished at sea)
Indescribable (by Chris Tomlin)
Todopoderoso ("Almighty", a very popular Spanish praise song)

The first time we rehearsed these was January 22, the night I was becoming very worried about the babies and the chicken pox outbreak. Before rehearsal I was at the hospital talking to our pediatrician and pharmacist friend, and afterwards moving baby Angel from the Baby Home to a missionary family till late, but during rehearsal I was comforted by the songs (when I could keep my mind on them).

Then by the next rehearsal, I thought God was pretty clever in choosing how to "beat me over the head" with trusting His omnipotence, blessing Him in everything, and quieting my soul in Him. Messages framed in music are just...less painful!

So this morning we played these and other songs at Cochabamba International Church, and they still impacted me as I apply them in whole new ways since losing Gabriela.

Then, as I mentioned in my email to the prayer team, the song “Glory Baby” by Watermark has helped me immensely as I try to turn my thoughts from losing Gabi from our midst to being comforted by where she is now, in her eternal home. Ironically, I first heard it here while comforting Gabriela on her first really rough night of colic in October. Every time I listened to it I was impacted to the point of tears, but it never crossed my mind that it would apply to my own life so soon.

Glory Baby

We miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there's a day
When we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away
When we're home to stay
We can't wait for the day
When we will see you, we will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘Til mom and dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
You'll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little baby, it's hard to understand it
Cause we are hurting, we are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we're stronger people
Through the growing and in knowing
All things work together for our good
And God works his purposes
Just like he said he would
Just like he said he would

Another song that's been amazing to listen to is this one, from the CD "Take My Life" by souled out, a Scottish group. Volunteer and dear friend Elizabeth gave it to me while she was here in December. Her pastor wrote this song:

To the God Above, by James Gregory

One moment the skies are blue and everything is clear
Then storm clouds are rolling in, our God are you still here?
When all of our words fall short in trying to explain
You’re good and we turn to You, surrendering again

To the God above all circumstance
Whose ways are higher than our ways
We lift our eyes and see Your face
And run to You

We trust in Your majesty, Your good and perfect will
Our wisdom is foolishness, our strength alone will fail
Though You’re still a mystery of one thing we are sure
You’re good and we turn to You, surrendering our all

We run to You, we run to You
God no one else will do, we run to you

Tonight the lesson for our church's women's Bible study was titled "Listening for the Music". After such a rough couple of weeks trying to keep my head above water running the homes, it was perfect to review the story of Peter walking on water with Jesus in Matthew 14:22-31.

Peter asked Jesus to say "come". I wonder if Peter expected what followed? Jesus said simply: "Come". (Similarly, I welcomed Jesus to call me to the field of the fatherless.)

When Peter realized, "Hey, this is nuts! the waves are HUGE! I'm gonna die!" his faithlessness threatened to sink him. (Somedays I wonder why in the world I wanted such a big job.)

But THEN when Peter called out "Lord, save me", Jesus immediately reached out His hand and rescued him. (Glad He doesn't get tired of me calling.)

Then the lesson ends with "Don't wait for the storm to pass before you sing. Don't wait for just the right situation in life before you let your spirit loose to dance. You can dance in the dark or when the storm rages. Lean fully on the Lord. Listen closely, and you'll hear His music in your spirit. Rely on Him for your every step, and you'll experience the joy and freedom of dependence." Amen! (The author has learned this lesson intimately--she is blind.)

Well that was a long post... I wrote it over a few days in spare minutes. Thanks for letting me process here! I don't care if anyone reads it or not, it's helpful for me. :-)

Here's praying that the next week is better........maybe with a chance to get all the babies out of the home to sterilize it top to bottom after these very sick weeks.

Baby Angel is really cute, still sleeping almost constantly. I got to hold him for several hours today after church, while we ate lunch in a serene outdoor restaurant on a perfect weather day.

In the afternoon we visited the cemetery. My Mom and sister had never been....they never had anyone to "visit" there until now.

A friend and former volunteer who works with street kids asked me today if we'd take in a 1 year old. A new child might help us heal. Or it might be too soon. A 2 year old was supposed to come soon anyway. Pray for God to make it clear which ones HE wants us to have!

Okay I'll really end this really long post now. Need to get myself organized before the week hits.