Current Child Count

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

babies and judges

Precious jewels baby boy

Today we were privileged with a rare visit from the two minor court judges, the two authorities who carry all of our cases, and about ten lawyers and assistants from "Defensoria de la Ninez" Cochabamba.

In two hours, they met 29 of our 34 children (the other five were at kindergarten) and said they loved our hogares. Yeah! Very intense, but VERY good for our children. To Casa de Amor, we sense the responsibility of all the lives in our hands every minute of every day, but to those who only work in an office far from baby cries, shuffling files around, I imagine it's easy to see them more as, well...papers! So days like today are very promising for the future of each little one here at Casa de Amor. May God move hearts! 

Adding a favorite story from the day, retold to me later by our social worker: our precocious 7 year old S enthusiastically offered the two judges mandarin oranges. Standing in a corner studying our kid lists, they both shook their heads and continued on. As only S can, she ordered, "But you are too skinny and are NEVER going to get fat [=healthy in Bolivian culture] if you don't EAT!!" And with that she forced the mandarins into their hands. (And I'll mention here that both are already a little on the chubby side!!)

Another girl, possibly the same, asked Tio David if he would like one, wording it this way: "Would you like a mandarin orange that I bought?" Tio David about died laughing...the money comes from me and goes to him to spend countless hours tirelessly hauling in every single thing that goes into our kids' mouths. He asked her if she was aware where the dog Scott sleeps, and that she'd perhaps like to join him...?? :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our little ones...

All 13 of our little ones are in this picture.... Can you spot them??

(The lady and her daughter were visiting from a local church this particular afternoon)

Noticed last week that we've reached exactly 100 baby lovers/followers, fun!

Please pray for our sweet babies today. Since yesterday they've been coming down with fevers one-by-one, and the youngest is vomiting as well. The past month medical care in Bolivia has been greatly complicated by the strike in the health field. (Doctors want six hour workdays, not eight hour workdays, and all the social benefits they are due by law.) The marches and hunger strikes have dragged on and on and it's hard to know where to take our babies, or even the older ones (our special health needs A.M. got sick two days ago). Besides being much more expensive, private clinics and hospitals are full!

Right now six are being taken in from the Baby Home to a doctor who agreed to see them at our local public clinic - God bless her!! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Update on A's next adoption...

For A's fan club!

The process is dragging on more than we had expected for A to be able to live with M's family in a "pre-adoption period" here in Cochabamba. When a child has been spotted to be assigned to a certain family, child social services is always ordered to update their reports on the child (medical-psychological-social). Then they present these to court and only THEN can everything march forward. I guess in our joy for A, we thought this step would be skipped or go faster, but nope. ;-)
For us, this updating process which includes visits to offices as well as their visits to us, has been more complicated than usual in trying to protect A from further emotional damage. He did not want to go back to the social services office after all the trauma he went through in the last adoption. He also has weekly visits from a court-appointed psychologist, who mentioned to our psychologist (Carmen) that he thinks A should be medicated for hyperactivity, ADHD, and begin a therapy program lasting at least one year! Well, Tia Carmen shot him out of the water on that one, explaining what she knows of A and how maybe the form he is working with him is not bringing out the best in A. After talking, he said his reports will be positive that he receive a family ASAP.

On the other front, Carmen and the tias, and even Tio David from the office, have been talking and talking and talking to A about having a family. He is very happy about the idea and they have had many animated, sweet conversations, that I love being retold. Very soon we will let him know that it's M's family which he will join!

My most recent experience with A was of another tenor: This Wednesday during my weekly school pick-up, 8 children had happily piled into the car but our dear oldest girls A & S were squabbling over who would be closest to the window. As I entered their little power struggle so that we could stop melting in the midday sun and finally get going, A suddenly piped up in an exasperated voice "GIRLS!! Tia Jenny is the DIRECTOR of Hogar de Amor, don't you know?!" As we all stopped to look at him, I said grinning "And how did you know that, A?" to which he replied "Well it's TRUE, isn't it, Tia Jenny?" All of his time spent in government offices much have made this stick in his head, or simply all the years living with us, but I laughingly informed him that kids don't really care who you are - kids will be kids! :)

After we finally got all in the car, happily or not, I couldn't help but point out to them that the street kids in my car every night rarely complain over anything, they are just SO HAPPY to be IN the car and not walking, ha!

Anyway, keep praying for this whole process and that the reports presented in court next week are positive. Even if it is undeniable that A needs a LOT of special attention and maybe even therapy to overcome all the rejections in his young life, we want the overriding opinion to be that he needs a forever family to even begin heading in the right direction. And since A turns 9 in August, this could very well be his last chance. Thank you!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New look!

On Saturday our little trouper M underwent his first surgery!
Read a bit of M's history from the post the day I brought him home here.
Some early pictures...

I took him to a couple different surgeons who work with projects or foundations here in Cochabamba to do cleft repairs, and in the end we went with the same doctor who operated on twin K last year. He was so upset that M had a "plaque" in his mouth (to form a roof) that he ripped it out and pitched it across the room when I first took M! Ah, the difference of opinions of doctors. So we stopped using it and actually, M drank better that way!

Then it was countdown time till the big day!! He is now 3 1/2 months old and plenty big enough for the surgery. (Amazing even to the nurses and doctors who have met him, he has had no problem gaining weight. He's often in clothing for 6 month olds!)

Just a couple days before...

...and hours before surgery

(This two pictures above and the one below were sent to me by volunteer Iris, who graciously volunteered to spend her Saturday afternoon comforting little M.)
Post-surgery!!! That night I saw this picture, the NEW HIM, for the first time when Iris posted it to Facebook, I gasped aloud I was so surprised how great he looks! (Apart from being pale, poor baby. He's now on treatment for anemia.)

Back at home, resting up!
Thanks to everyone who prayed for M. He's doing well apart from NOT being happy about the "milk in a syringe" procedure for his meals. That's the post-op procedure for two weeks, however.

We are so excited about his cute little perfect nose! In fact, hospital staff told us that M's surgery came out the best of anyone's that day!! Even beforehand, they had chosen to focus on his story for their next publication that goes to their funders in Holland.

Thanks to a March team from Canada, we had $200 set aside for M's first surgery expenses. In the end, the total cost was $310 (reduced due to the foundation's support).
PS - if anyone feels led to give towards our new little boy P's surgery, the cost will be similar so we'd be very grateful! The surgery, already scheduled for May 11, will be P's final.

Monday, April 16, 2012

two sleeping beauties...

Or beaus!


...and last week...

Baby P (5 weeks) and Baby S (2 months)

Too precious :)

And they grow so fast!
Pictures coming soon of baby M. post surgery!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday

Our Sunday morning at the Baby Home...

(Okay, so this is AFTER the race to get our babies dressed while a dozen more clung our legs, wanting attention as well!)

...and our lovely accompaniments to church!

Jen is holding baby F (10 months) and Jenn is holding baby S (almost 2 months)

Beautiful baby F!

After drinking her bottle and napping through most of the service, baby F was in a fine mood!

It's no wonder two couples have fallen in love with our F and are starting papers to adopt her...
She charmed everyone she met!

New teeth!!

Baby F is of course wearing a handmade dress given to me the day before by jail friends to sell (for other pictures with Baby Home models, click here).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The best news ever for our little boy A!!!!

As the adoptions keep taking place here at Casa de Amor, one after another, ONE adoption has eluded us, one that has been prayed for ardently by a fan club that now extends worldwide, for this child…

Our A, now 8 ½!

To share just a bit of his history, A arrived to Casa de Amor on March 28, 2005, back when we had just one home on the property of a hospital. He was around 1 year old, malnourished, big almond eyed, quiet ,and...sad.

Not knowing his exact birthday, I gave him my Dad’s, August 14, later discovering that his birthday was indeed in August, the 23rd!

When A's mother finally showed up in August of that year, she didn’t even recognize which child was hers and didn’t believe us when we told her. She didn’t visit very frequently, dealing with her own pains in life, and was never affectionate with A. Even though she denied it, it appeared that she was pregnant. She gave birth to fair-skin-and-eyes twins the next year, quickly abandoning both with their grandmother.

Long story short, eventually with the government’s approval and all papers in order, A also went to live with his grandmother. We frequently visited the family and even though the grandmother struck us as a bitter, authoritarian woman, we respected how hard she worked to provide for not only five grandchildren but her own elderly mother. Then came a Sunday morning when I was called home for church because the grandmother was in the Baby Home with A in tow, demanding that we take him back. A was not sleeping at night, crying to come back to our house and wanting to see “Tia Jennifer” (me!). Glaring at me, the grandmother tiredly declared that he must be my son because he only talked of me.

It took months to work A out of this fresh abandonment. Time after time, I carried him to my room to point out my bed and reassure him that, yes, I still lived in the same house as him. I had to sneak out of the house without him seeing me if I couldn’t take him along.

Chatting with a US fan club member ;-)

A moved to Casa de Amor II on December 7, 2007, with several of his best friends. They blossomed in the environment of the “big kids” and began kindergarten together! Then, one by one, each left in adoption or back to family members, and A was left behind. His behavior grew more difficult and resentful, but he was surrounded by the only good family he’d ever known, and understanding the reasons behind his actions gave us more grace.

Finally in 2010, after multiple attempts by birth family members to stop the process (although not a single one wanted to regularly visit or take A home for good), we got some wonderful news! He was finally pre-assigned to a couple in Europe! A’s fan club rejoiced, and yet as the months dragged on, we began to wonder if all was well. Finally in early 2011, the news came: the wife had been diagnosed with advanced cancer and the couple would have to desist from their Bolivian adoption. Why always A?!

Pleading with the court to quickly reassign him to a waiting family, he was matched to a couple from another European country. They arrived in October 2011 and met A, bringing a small little homemade cake that we eventually managed to cut into enough bite-sized pieces to give everyone in Casa de Amor II a taste. As far as the paperwork, the process unfolded as usual, but something wasn’t quite right. The couple was stony cold and silent, the woman often weeping. We tried to brush it off explaining they were tears of joy. Court staff and child social services staff didn’t notice anything amiss, so after the preliminary week of visits and court hearings, A went to live with the couple in their rented house in Cochabamba.

By early November, the cracks were becoming apparent to all and could no longer be hidden. We could hardly believe it, but the adoption was falling through. Without going into details in such a public forum, some really awful things came to light concerning the couple and the agency was being taken to court to explain their selection process and control of the “new families” in Bolivia. We were again horrified—why our A?!

As soon as everyone starting blowing whistles, the end came swiftly for A’s sake. He would NOT be made to suffer more! Almost overnight the couple had presented papers in court desisting from adopting A and had left the country. A actually stayed with the very good people from the agency that had come to love him during the whole ordeal, with the great hope that there would be another couple paper-work ready who would be willing to come immediately and adopt A.

But out of 50 prospective waiting couples, none was a match for our A.

Finally in late January after a round of meetings with my staff, the court ordered for A to come back to live in Casa de Amor II. This was bittersweet—obviously we wanted A back in our Casa de Amor family where he could begin to heal, but it also felt like a death sentence to a potential adoption. When a child is rejected, even if it’s not his or her fault, it leaves an ugly black spot in their file at court and makes it that much harder for another adoption assignment. And in this case, we have an older child which already spells “hard-to-place”.

But everyone around the world kept praying, most fervently those of us who live with and love A....

February 2012 arrived and with it, our first “double adoption”! Two couples at once arrived from Italy to adopt two of our dear little boys at Casa de Amor II:

B with his new parents and big sister

M and his new parents

Both families are absolutely beautiful in their relationships and open affection and joy to be with each other. My favorite is B’s happiness to be with his sister and follow her lead in everything from how to play to what to eat….and how to speak Italian!

During the course of their visits, M’s family heard parts of A’s long tangled story. They couldn’t stop thinking and talking about him and…… Asked their agency if they could be allowed to take A home, as well!!! Our hearts skipped a beat for joy!

However, the agency did not give the couple much hope, as in recent history Italy has only approved the joint adoption of non-siblings ONCE! Even so, everyone thought it was worth a try, as maybe the last opportunity for A. We presented the long, updated social and psychological reports for A. Italy took only 2 days to give the unexpected answer: YES!!!!!

So M’s new parents sat him down and said “How would you like to have a brother?” M’s immediate reply was “YES! That’s what I’ve always wanted!” They had him guess who that could be, and interestingly enough, his first two guesses were other children he used to live with at Casa de Amor III before the family in charge began adoption processes and had to transfer the remaining children to our other homes. But when his parents asked if he would like for his brother to be A, he was happy!

Only yesterday this news became official and I am free to tell everyone.

A still needs prayers!!! Today our staff will start to work with him to "prepare the ground" of his heart, so to speak, and next week they will tell him the news. We know our A and that after so many rejections, it's possible that he just says, "No, I don't want to go with them". Please pray that if this is God's ordained family for A, that his heart will be prepared to receive them, and vice versa. Yeah!!!