Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 43: Back to normal visits

Today was what I think is that last paper chase day.  We went to withdrawal the money from the boys' bank accounts to donate to the orphanages.  The government here allows orphanages to open bank account for the children and a small amount of money is deposited in them by the government every month.  This money is then theirs when they 'age out' of the system (although I have heard sometimes it is hard for the kids to get the money when it is finally available to them).  Although the money technically belongs to the boys, it is customary for adopting parents to donate it to the orphanage with the understand that the orphanage directors use it to benefit all the children left behind.  Some use it for medical visits, some for new windows, some for play ground equipment, etc.

Valentin's account had a fairly large amount in it because he has been 'orphaned' since birth.  His director was very grateful for the money.  Joey's account on the other hand had very little because although his birthmother had her parental rights taken away, she never officially waived her rights, therefore allowing Joey to have an account.  The account opened only after she passed away and Joey was then truly considered an orphan.  The director at his orphanage opened the envelope and slammed it down on the table yelling and complaining about the amount.  He is a very harsh man and something in my spirit gives me a bad feeling when I am around him.  He then asked me very weird questions about how I was going to take care of a child like Valentin (obviously looking down on Valentin and mind you Valentin was not even in his orphanage - I was at his orphanage to adopt Joey).  Very weird and very creepy.

Alas, I got to spend some time with the boys!!!!  My facilitator was with me at the orphanages so I took the opportunity to ask some final questions of the staff since she could translate.

We visited Valentin first and we asked the doctor some questions.  She asked what his behavior was like yesterday going to the passport office.  I told her he cried a little bit but was very excited to be in the car and laughed a lot and over all he was very good and enjoyed it.  She absolutely refused to believe me and thought I was lying, so my facilitator brought in my driver and she asked him and he told her the same thing.  She was SHOCKED.  It is so sad that they make up their mind about these kids and what they can and cannot do and they just refuse to see them differently or give them a chance.  Sad. Anyway, I got to go in his room and take pictures!  He was very happy to see me!!!  He even tried to stand up to get to me - you have no idea how amazing it was to see him try to stand or the emotions I felt watching him try to get to me.  HE WANTED ME.

I spent some time in his room with my facilitator taking about the other kids (I will post about all the things I have seen in that room and about the children there - it's a hard post to write and I am working on it).  The staff kept telling me that Valentin could eat and drink just fine, but something in my gut was telling me that was not true.  So I asked if I could watch how they fed him and they agreed.  Now I know that with these kids they just shovel food in their mouth as quickly as possible, but in front of me they were slow and gentle (such a show and such a lie).  They fed him what looked like oatmeal and all they gave him was probably what would equate to a little less then one packet of instant oatmeal to us.  That's it.  No wonder he is so skinny, all he gets is maybe about 4 or 5 cups of food a day.  As soon as she brought out the food the look on his face changed and he got very serious, I knew this was not going to be good.  He had a very hard time swallowing his food.  I could tell from the look on his face it was very hard for him and he had to concentrate on getting the food down.  Then came some milk because I asked them to show me how he drinks after they told me he drinks from a cup.  They tried the cup and he aspirated and chocked a few sips down, so she went and got a bottle (a beer bottle with a nipple on it with a huge whole cut out), he sucked well on that but aspirated and chocked again.  So she poured it in the cup and tried a spoon and again aspirated and chocked.  I could tell he was getting a lot of air down with every swallow and I could tell it was all going to come right back up.  Sure enough it did.  This really shows me that they do not hydrate him, because they fumbled around with ways to give him a drink after I asked them to show me.  I think what they do is feed him (and probably most of the kids like him) soupy and mushy food and that is all the hydration they get.  I wanted to get angry, but mostly my heart just broke.  After seeing the kids in his room and how they are treated and fed, I am just sick over it - for another post.

After the feeding nightmare we got to spend some time together and he was pretty happy.  Oh, and they told me his red eyes are from an eye infection that they are treating.  Have I said that I cannot wait to get him out of there!!!!

Then we went to visit Joey.  We saw the director first and you know how that went.  Then we went to his building.  I was surprised to see new kids in his groupa.  I bet they have been in his groupa the whole time but maybe they were in the hospital before Joey was because I was told that chickenpox had been going around his groupa.  It was nice to meet the new kids!  Joey of course jumped with excitement when he saw me (but mostly when he saw his backpack of blocks).  We played with blocks for a while and spontaneously he leaned over and gave me 3 kisses on my cheek.  Then right back to playing.  I could hardly hold back the tears!  What a love!  I asked our facilitator to explain to him what adoption meant and to ask if he was sure he wanted to come home with us and be our son.  His answer was 'da'.  I still do not think he understands exactly what it all means (how could he with all the trauma and abandonment he has experienced) but I wanted to at least take advantage of the translator and prepare him as best as we could.  I was very excited that Joey looked like he felt better, I had been so worried about him.

It was a great day and a very sad day at the same time.  I am realizing more and more that although a new life is beginning for Valentin and Joey (praise God), life is not changing for the kiddos who's faces are burned in my memory and whom I will soon have to leave behind.  The reality is that I will have to walk away from these kids and leave them in these horrendous conditions.  How does one do that?  Once again I am learning to completely trust God's word:

"But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief,
To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless.

...Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear,
18 To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

-Psalm 10:14, 17-18


  1. Jamie...This post breaks my heart, but at the same time I am rejoicing in the changes I see in your little guys. Praise God! Valentin is a different child now. Love it. So sorry they have had to endure so much. :( Hard to digest.
    So glad you are their family now.
    Love to you all. Praying that the rest of your trip goes smooth.

  2. So glad to hear you had another good visit with your boys, and that it will soon be over. It is heart breaking to read about the manner in which the children are treated. Thank you for sharing so much of what you have seen and experienced.

  3. Maaike (the Netherlands)June 1, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Hi Jamie,

    Are you sure that Joey and the other kids had chickenpox? I'm asking because the Dutch news is going on about a bad measles epidemic in the boys' country. (This in relation to the upcoming European soccer championship in the boys' country and Dutch supporters going there. The Dutch government even made extra measles vaccinations available for people traveling there.)

    If so many of the other kids in Joey's groupa had it, too, and there is a measles epidemic in the country, then would it not be reasonable to think that they all had measles?

    I'm so happy that the boys are coming home with you, and that they are so happy to see you!

    Best wishes,
    Maaike (I've been following your blog ever since Adeye Salem wrote about Valentin.)

  4. Please promise me (us) that we will get to see these two grow up through your blog!! I have come to love them (and you) through reading your blog. Can't wait to see them safely in the US in their new home with their new siblings...
    Many hugs to you!

  5. Oh! When can you get them out of there?! 6 months from now they are going to be so healthy and strong and secure in the knowledge that they are loved! Oh, sweet Valentin, how scary it will be for you to feed him with all of his problems swallowing. But of course you will take it as slowly as he needs you too. I'm so, so happy for you all and so sorry to know that even in the midst of your joy your heart hurts for the children you are leaving behind. Know that your blog, your experiences, your advocacy will mean escape for many of them. The world just doesn't know and you're changing that.

    May God bless and keep you for the rest of your time in-country.

    Judee in Iowa

  6. Precious boys!! Thank you so much for sharing your journey. My heart breaks too for those left behind. Blessings on your entire family.

  7. Jamie-Those photos and videos just brought tears to my eyes. To hear those boys hear a momma tell them that they are loved...

    Sending you prayers of love and strength...for all of you, Tyler, the kids at home and those precious boys. XOXO Jane

  8. I don't always take the time to comment but I sooo look forward to your updates on these precious angels and am praising God that they have a forever family now!! It is clear from the photo you posted above of Valentin that when he saw you he just wanted OUT of that crib and to be in the arms of his mama!
    I too believe that thru your blog, peoples eyes and hearts are being opened and I will pray for those left behind as well as keeping your family in prayer. I know my heart will ache when I read your upcoming post about what you've seen and what the children experience day in and day out but at the same time I know it is a necessary post if things are to ever improve for those that wait!

  9. Oh how brave you truly are to face this director w/ cash in hand all alone...of course your strength is always there but I'm sure you must be one of the bravest people after today! What is it w/ these directors and their power plays with money? What you are going through, the storms you are weathering will surely make you one of the best mama bears ever for these two boys!! You and they need one another so just keep marching in there and hope that someday these people will remember you, your kindness and after all your generous spirit! Soon, soon, soon!!! And I can't wait to hear about all those little eyes and souls watching you and your visits.

  10. I have been following your blog for a few weeks now and I am just in love with your story and your goodness and your boys. I am so terribly happy for them and for you. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  11. when you get home to the US, please keep us updated on the boys growth and progress. Our son grew 5 inches and gained 15 pounds in one year with good nutrition. It looks as though Valentin isn't getting nutrition, he will flourish once he gets home. One of the things we learned is that people in that country do not drink at meal time because they think it is bad for digestion! So, we rarely saw our son drink while there.

  12. Like several of the others, I so want to follow these little boys' story after they are home. I know you will be extremely busy with your family but I hope you will be able to continue blogging and posting pictures of their progress. I am so excited to see how they will flourish in a loving family with good nutrition, sunshine and exercise. You and Tyler are just precious!