Thursday, March 1, 2012

From Kremenchuk to Kiev…to Austin!!!

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Wednesday, February 29—Leap Day—, we eagerly packed our belongings and waited for our “mini-bus” (Ukrainian for mini-van, a rare vehicle in Ukraine) to pick  us up to take us to the boys’ orphanage so we could spring them out of that place and into forever freedom!

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Matt’s shirt was very fitting for the day…James 1:27, LIVE IT!  (We purchased this shirt from my friend, Shelley, who sold these as a fundraiser for her most recent adoption.)


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Our wonderful driver, Sasha, who has become a trusted friend to us while in Kremenchuk, came to the hotel to tell us goodbye.  He arranged for a friend of his to drive us to Kiev in his mini-bus (mini-van).


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We climbed in the mini-bus, with plenty of space to spare, waiting to fill two more seats with our precious new sons.


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We arrived at the orphanage around 2PMish and went straight to our boys’ groupa/room.  The caregivers had kept them up from nap time, with anticipation of our arrival.  The caregivers removed the orphanage clothing from our boys, and quickly dressed them in the clothing we brought for them.


With tears in their eyes, the caregivers hugged us and kissed us and thanked us for adopting Conner and Cooper.  We thanked them for loving our boys, and we left a new vacuum cleaner for the groupa/room, as their old one had broken.  This was the caregivers’ main request when we inquired about what we could do for them.  One of the caregivers bowed on her knees and kissed the ground when we left the vacuum cleaner.  The two caregivers are very kind.  They were so thankful they were able to tell Conner and Cooper goodbye, then they hugged us again and cried as we exited.  (Summer, if you’re reading this, they told us to tell you hello and to give Gavin their love!)


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We went to the orphanage secretary to sign required final paperwork to take custody of the boys.  She asked us to email photos of the boys, and she also presented us with the boys’ baptismal certificates and small crosses they’d been given when they were baptized.  (We had no idea they’d been baptized here.)


We got the boys into the mini-bus and began the journey to Kiev.  They don’t use care seats here, but both boys traveled extremely well.  Neither one got car sick.  Yippee!


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We drove through McDonald’s (for Matt and me because the boys can’t have new foods yet due to the deadly risk of re-feeding syndrome).  Matt and I were so hungry by this time.  One day we’ll be able to feed our boys anything and everything.  Hopefully soon!


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Staring out the window at FREEDOM!!!


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Conner only slept about 20 minutes total of the 4-hour trip, but he was a very content traveler.  He just sat in my lap or stretched out over me most of the ride.


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Beautiful sunset, beautiful boy.


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Cooper was all over the place!!!  Thank God for the iPad!!!!!  He watched movies 95% of the ride, which helped him with his spider monkey tendencies!!!  He’s like a bouncing ball…everywhere!!!


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So precious.  Cooper loves his Daddy.


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We were greeted by our friends in Kiev:  Tara and her baby E (her hubby was resting), who welcomed us (again) into their amazing apartment. Tara purchased food for the boys and had everything all organized for us.  Such an awesome provision from our Lord.


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We used the double stroller to contain the boys, as their apartment isn’t quite baby-proof yet.  Cooper and Conner LOVED sitting in front of the TV, watching a channel called Baby TV. 


The boys had their first real baths (they only get wiped down at the orphanage).  Conner wasn’t quite sure of it, but Cooper LOVED it.  He splashed crazily and got all of us covered in water. 

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Then, Matt noticed something brown floating in the water.

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Oh, no!  Tell me it isn’t!  Conner, come with me, quickly!!!


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Sometimes you just have to laugh.  Yep, it sure was…POOP!  From Cooper.  Over and over and over again.  Poop, more poop, and more poop.  My precious husband just asked us to take care of Conner so he could take care of the poop.  Over and over and over again.  He didn’t even allow me to switch jobs when I offered.  Gotta love that man!!!


So, we (Tara and I) laid Conner on the bed to lotion him up, only to discover this is what Conner looks like when lying down. Sad smile  


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Break my heart. This boy is TINY, just skin and bones. He desperately needs medical intervention and prayers. He refuses to eat/drink…not even water.  Nothing, no matter how delicious it is, absolutely nothing by mouth!  No bottle, cup, straw, spoon…nothing.  Conner doesn’t know how to chew, so everything has to be pureed, but even straight yogurt with no chunks makes him totally gag. He refuses to swallow, to the point of tears, along with gagging and tantruming.  (See more at the end of this post on this issue.)


Here’s a picture of Cooper’s club feet, which we’re really sad to see all of the bruises/scars on.  Looking forward to seeing God’s leading on having Cooper’s feet repaired in Texas.  Once they’re repaired, we have no doubt Cooper will be running all over the place!

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The boys went to bed their first night out of the orphanage without a peep, and they both slept GREAT in their PeaPod tent beds (thanks to the 2 moms who gave us these…they’re AWESOME!). 

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Matt and I stayed up late completing forms for the US Embassy interview.  Our awesome facilitator had everything printed out and organized for us, we just had to fill in all the answers/info.  There were at least 50 pieces of paper, probably more, because we’re adopting 2 boys, non-related.

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The boys slept until 8AM Thursday, without waking in the night.  Hallelujah!  We’ve been amazed to see how well they’re transitioning into family life.  We got them dressed into real clothes immediately because the thought of letting them linger in pajamas made me nauseated, since that’s all they’ve ever known…never changing out of their pajamas, lying in a crib 24/7. 


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Look how Cooper sits!!!  He also sleeps like this, only prone, with his feet pulled up beside his body.  Looks crazy painful to me, but it’s his favorite position!


Cooper allowed us to feed him breakfast (baby oatmeal with pureed banana), but Conner refused to eat or drink anything.  Matt headed off to the US Embassy for our first appointment/interview, so Nina (our facilitator) helped me take the boys to their required medical exam.  Both boys did great during their exams, and no problems/issues (such as TB) were found that would keep them from entering the US.  Praise God!

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After the medical visit, we went back to Tara’s apartment and never left for the rest of the day/night because we spent the entire day and night trying to figure out how to best meet Conner’s needs.  With the concern that he could die from dehydration, but could also die from refeeding syndrome if we forced Pedialyte and/or other carbs/foods/sugars into his system, we had to figure out what the best approach to keeping him hydrated would be.


It’s a very scary balancing act on our part because of the huge risk he has for death due to refeeding syndrome. It’s very important that he not have any change in his diet, with extra precautions not to increase his caloric intake, carbohydrate/sugar intake, or nutrient intake. He cannot have IV fluids or a feeding tube (wouldn’t want to attempt getting that in Ukraine anyway) because the sudden change in electrolytes can cause death.


Refeeding syndrome is very serious, and even in hospital settings, if the staff don’t know what they’re doing, the patient can suddenly die due to heart failure (or a host of other things that come on suddenly, even in a hospital setting). It’s been really hard to get accurate information because so many people have been told different things and recommend different things.


Our excellent, not-your-average pediatrician (whom we adore and fully trust) did a lot of research and collaboration with a team at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin (which would be our closest hospital) regarding Conner’s risk for refeeding syndrome.  (Actually both boys are at risk, but Conner is super high risk due to his heart condition and the fact that he’s about 7-10 pounds lighter than Cooper.)  We were told to not give Pedialyte or push foods if Conner doesn’t want to eat because that could kill him before we can get him home. It would be better for Conner not to eat if he doesn’t want to (as long as we can keep him hydrated with water) because if we change his diet, his caloric intake, his carb intake, sugar intake, nutrient intake, he could suddenly die, most likely of heart failure.


Conner already has a heart defect, so he’s at extra-high risk.  After many hours of prayer and research and collaboration with other moms who have been through this (particularly Katie’s mom, whose case is similar to Conner’s, though Conner isn’t as severe as Katie was), we’ve decided to stick with the advice of our pediatrician, which coincides with what Katie’s team of doctors recommended for her trip home. 


We will offer Conner the same foods that he was fed at the orphanage, in the same quantity, by the same method, at the same times.  If he refuses food/liquids by mouth, we will force 3ml water via syringe into Conner, every hour.  (This is tricky because we have to physically restrain him, squeeze his cheeks, put the syringe of water as far back in his throat as we can get it, then blow in his face while squeezing his cheeks until he swallows it.)  Conner didn’t have any urine output for the day, until around 6PM when he finally had a big ole wet diaper, praise God! 


We booked our tickets to fly home Saturday, arriving into Austin at 9:15PM!!!!!!!!!!!!  HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We booked them with faith that the boys’ visas WILL be ready tomorrow (Friday) at 2PM.  Please keep all of us in your prayers, especially Conner.  We are praising our Abba Father for getting us this far, praising Him in the storm, praising Him in the rainbows, praising Him in all things, at all times.  Thank you, Father!

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