Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I had a really eloquent post written in my head about adoption and attachment issues. How some kids are treated as throw-aways and how the system fails everyone in tough situations, but I am too tired to write it. I was so sure that I would be bringing PBJ home by now, or at least have a solid date for that. I thought about how it would be over the holidays with her there. How we could use all the chaos that the holidays bring to give her extra stimulation. How much fun it would be to have the kids' Christmas portraits taken in matching outfits. And now I just have to wonder if that will happen.

Someone from PBJ's village has filed with the court's contesting her adoption. I don't know who it is or if they want to parent her, or if they just have a problem. In fact, I don't know much of anything. The court still has not signed off on her file and released it. Is the birth mother really deaf/mute and illiterate? If so, how did she pass the interview in Family Court? It seems more likely she just doesn't speak Spanish, but then why can't an interpretor be found and solve that issue pronto? Or did they do that already? What is the problem? Can it be fixed? When will it be fixed? What is really going on?????

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The weekend in photos

The hat I made for Levi's faux-sister Mina. The hat fits her personality perfectly! The brim is supposed to be rolled up a bit so it won't look so much like a chef's hat. She was too busy eating a sucker to cooperate with the modeling, though.
Yummy caramel apples. Hey, it's fruit, right?? It has to be healthy.

Chris finished the box around the playset and had 12 yards of mulch delivered to fill it.

Levi enjoyed the mulch more than the playset.

Our entry for the company pumpkin contest. We didn't win anything but it turned out cute.

This is what Levi wore to run errands with me on Saturday. Everywhere we went he said Arrrrghhhh.

We carved our pumpkins this weekend. Levi loved the 'guts' and had a blast digging them out. We washed all the seeds and toasted them. He tried one and that was it. No more. Oh well, Mommy likes them!

The finished products. Meet Goofy and Spaz, named for their creators.

Another hat for charity. I almost have the box full and ready to send off.

It was a wonderful fall weekend filled with normal family stuff. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Monday

PBJ's file is still in the Court of Minor's. The judge has not released it yet. The foster family says she is doing well, moving more and getting stronger. She is really eating a lot and loving baby food.

Ahren's DNA and Family Court interview are scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6th. We should have DNA results a couple of weeks after that. I still have a feeling it's not going to match. I have had that feeling ever since the time he was about 2 months old. I really hope I am wrong!

Saturday morning we heard a knock on our door and opened it to find another Rainbow playset being delivered. I'm glad we were home or we might be the proud owners of 2 identical playsets. I'm sure the assembly guys would not think twice about setting one up right next to the first one.

This weekend we carved pumpkins, roasted the seeds, made caramel apples and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Levi has tried on his costume 20 times. He still comes up with new ideas every day on what he wants to be for trick or treat, even though I told him he is stuck with the costume we already bought. Katie has cheer practice that night so it's going to be a scramble to take him out around the neighborhood, hand out candy and get her to and from the gym. I went to the parent's cheer meeting last night where we learned how to do the hair and make-up. Essentially, it involves lots of bouncy curls and enough make-up to make a hooker cringe. It's funny, though, when they get out on the floor the make-up looks right. Oh, and glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. Joy. During competition season we all wear glitter. It ends up everywhere!

This week marks the 2 year anniversary of when we first signed our adoption paperwork and officially started the process. Two years and Zero kids. Who'd of thought.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another week goes by

No news yet. I tried to call PGN myself, but no one answers the phone. I will try again later. No word on when Ahren's DNA and FC interview are scheduled either. I sometimes wonder if all of this is just a bad dream and I will wake up and this never happened........

My sister and her family got to go back to their sooty, smelly but un-burned house yesterday. Wahoo!

The weather is beautiful and we plan on having a relaxing weekend. next weekend starts the Cheerleading competition season. The first event is out of town. How lucky (note of sarcasm) Oh well, what better way to spend a weekend than in a convention center listening to way-too-loud music and cheer routines 12 hours a day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Waiting and wondering...

No news. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No answers to my e-mails, no phone calls, nothing. As hard as everything has been, this is the worst part. I was so hopeful we would already be making travel plans to bring her home. We just have to wait. And wait. And wait.

But, we did get some new photos of Ahren. Same beautiful boy, same perfect curls.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Weight of the Wait

No news on PBJ. Arghhhh!!! No medical update, no case update, nothing. I did hear from the agency, but all they could tell me was nothing yet.

I took this picture on the last day I was there. I was trying to see how she would react to being on her stomach. In July, she HATED her stomache and would yell and roll over immediately. This time she just laid there. I pushed her little knee up to see if she could use her leg to push a little, but nothing. She wasn't happy but she just fussed a little. I am using these things as benchmarks. Later, as she regains these functions we will be able to celebrate how far she has come and rejoice.

Yesterday I got to see a baby that had suffered an extremely serious bleed in her brain right after birth. The original prognosis from the doctors was grim to say the least. Today, at 6 months old, she is a bright eyed, happy, laughing, gorgeous little baby. You would never know by looking at her that she had endured such a rough start. The infant brain is amazing. Little Samantha is amazing. Her parents are amazing. I have more hope than I have since this ordeal began. So PBJ, you have some competition up here. It's time to get chunked up and healthy and show us what you're made of!!!

In other news, we are paying for Ahren's DNA test today. We had already paid the old agency way back on 3/21/06 for this, but they never credited it to the test. Now if we want it done, and want our son, we have to pay again. Add that to the extra foster fees they charged us, the extra they over-charged us for his surgery and the extra $3,000.00 they asked us to pay but never sent on to the facilitator, and it adds up to a lot. I have documentation for every one of those charges, plus their e-mails witht he false claims. Oh, I bet I never mentioned that while I was in Guatemala this month, the judge ruled that there is enough evidence to hold them over for trial on the federal charges. Wahoo!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Sister

Just heard form my folks and the fires spared my sister's homes....for now. It got as close as the houses across the street from their new house, but the firefighters were able to stop it. Fires are raging all over, so it's not over yet, but those firefighters faced the devil and won today!!!

My sister, her husband and 4 kiddos live in Escondido, California. Yesterday morning they packed up their vehicles, the kids, the pets and everything they could stuff in of importance, and were evacuated because of the fires. They had only moved into this house 3 weeks ago. There old house, nearby, has not sold yet. They have been working on it to get it on the market. When they left, the fires were very close and heading directly at them. It looks like they may have lost both houses and everything in them. They should find out more information today.

The photos in the news show utter devastation. And they think some of these were started by arson. Evil at the hands of man. I am sure if they ever catch any of the perpetrators they will be sorry and show remorse. They will claim they never knew it could cause so much harm or would get so out of control. They didn't mean to cause so much damage. What goes on in someone's mind when they do something like that? What causes someone to suddenly, one day, have the urge to start a fire and watch it burn? You get up, eat breakfast, then grab the gas can and head out for some fun? Gee, it's been the dryest year on record. I bet the whole valley would go up like a torch. Cool. I cannot comprehend the mindset of a person like that.

Whoever these people are, they have so little regard for others that it didn't even cross their minds that so many people could lose everything. Or maybe it did cross their minds but it excited them? I think about what my sister must have been facing. Trying to figure out what to save, what to leave. I hope she got the baby books and photo albumns. Important documents, etc. I know they got the kids and pets. They are staying at a church shelter right now, away from the fires (for now)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Our weekend in pictures

Tried NOT to think about this little punkin.

Spent lots of time with this little goofball.

I knit on the kids sweater I am attempting. This is the Lion Brand Lucky Stripes Cardigan kit. It was on sale and a great deal. If I screw it up too badly, I still got lots of yarn for the price!

I knit on my scarf for the Knit-A-Long I joined.

Our new Rainbow playset arrived and was set up.

We bought pumpkins (will carve next weekend so they don't rot before Halloween)

Friday, October 19, 2007


We heard from the foster family last night and Peri Brynn is doing better every day. On Monday she has a follow up appointment with the pediatirc neurologist. There are a couple of issues we need to keep on top of. First, the pressure in her brain. If the medication does not control it then the next step is to place a shunt to relieve the pressure. This involves drilling a hole in her skull, threading the shunt into one of the ventrilces in her brain, and then threading it under the skin and down into her abdomen where the excess fluid will drain. For obvious reasons I do not want this to happen, but if it has to, I really really want it to take place here in the US.

The doctor is also going to do another EEG and see if the seizure activity in her brain is completely under control. She is on a high dose of anti-seizure medication and there are serious side-affects from continuing at that high dose. If the EEG is good they may be able to lower her dose.

And the final kicker? There is evidence of a previous brain injury that they need to follow up on. This involves the temporal and frontal lobe, so may affect other functions than the motor skills that were damaged this time.

I am falling, falling, falling. The energy I had from the call to action has seeped away and I feel like a big puddle of goo. It takes every bit of my energy to pull my sorry ass out of bed in the morning and continue to put one foot in front of the other. The only really strong emotion I am feeling is anger, and that is not productive, so I try and keep it contained. I am losing that battle. It is a good thing the agency will not reveal to me the name of the old foster mother or any other info. The urge to make them suffer the way they made my daughter suffer is too strong. I wish I was a better person, that I could turn the other cheek and find forgiveness, but I am not. At least not yet.

I continue to be amazed at the compassion that the US Embassy has shown me and PBJ. I spent a good 20 minutes on the phone yesterday with the Consular General, the head of the US Embassy in Guatemala. He was kind and genuinely pleased to talk to me. We talked all about what had happened to PBJ, what her prognosis is and how the system works (or doesn't work) He told me to call him if I needed anything and to let him know when I was going to be back in Guatemala. This is so completely different than the stories I have heard of the cold, heartless bastards at the embassy. I can only think that the amazing outpouring of prayers from all of you worked this miracle. I am humbled and so thankful. Words cannot express how this makes me feel.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good news all around

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with the Consular General. What a nice guy! He told me that the judge in Minor's Court still has not released our file back to regular PGN. Supposedly they appeared in front of him last Friday and got his approval, but he hasn't signed it or sent it on yet. The director can't sign it until that happens. They said there are still questions about the birth mom and some irregularities in the statements. Hopefully soon it will get signed and back to PGN where they are ready to sign it off and get PBJ on her way. More waiting.

PBJ has a virus. That's all. Wahoo! She is also sick to her stomach from one of the meds so they have given her something for that too. She is beginning to feel much better. The foster mom is working with her to eat baby food and she is really liking it. Poor thing, one year old and all she was getting was powdered milk. No wonder she was so thin.

The Consular General of the US Embassy called me yesterday and left a message saying he was on his way to meet with the PGN solicitor to discuss PBJ's case. He was meeting with him face-to-face to request him to sign off the case immediately. He gave me his cell phone number to call him today and see how it went. Absolutely amazing! I hope it went well. I hope we get our signature and I hope we can bring her home in very short time.

I will update later once I talk to him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No news

UPDATE: They just e-mailed me to tell me she still has the fever and is now vomiting. The doctor gave her anti-nausea meds now too. Poor thing. I never should have left her....

I still haven't gotten the actual medical report from the doctor. I did, however, get the bill. Gee thanks. Our agency is calling them to see what is going on and how she is doing. I now have a sore throat and I am guessing she probably has it too and that is what is causing the fever. Her immune system is probably low right now and it would make her very susceptible to a virus. I sure hope that's all it is.

She missed her DNA test yesterday because she was at the doctors. They will have to reschedule it. Hopefully very very soon, but I don't know. She did get the last of the immunizations she needs to have before they will issue the visa, so that's good. (I find that odd that they would give her vaccinations when she is sick...????)

As good as it feels to be home I also feel helpless being so far away. At least while I was down there I felt like I was doing something.

Ellie has tagged me and since I don't have any real information to share, you get this. Hah!

Jobs I have had:
Food service in a retirement home
Med Lab Tech
Research Associate/Scientist

Places I have lived:
Des Moines, Iowa
Phoenix, Arizona
Dallas, Texas
Houston, Texas

Foods I love:

Places I would rather be:
Home on maternity leave with PBJ
The beach
The mountains

T.V Shows I watch:
Top Chef
John and Kate plus 8
Little people, Big world
Lots of Discovery health shows

Books I love:
Harry Potter
Medical suspense novels

I'll update later if I hear anything.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Call from Guatemala

We just got a call from Guatemala that PBJ's fever shot up high today and they took her back to the hospital. They are sending me the medicals. She has an infection, but for the life of me I could not understand where he was saying the infection was. The signal kept cutting out and he promised to send me the doctors report by e-mail right away. He said she is on new medicine and doing better tonight.

Come on Barrios, sign her paperwork and let her go!!!! God has saved her life, now save her Mommy's sanity and bring her home!!!!


It was so hard to leave my precious little bambina. Harder than any other time. This time she really needed me and although I really feel good about the new foster mom, it still isn't me caring for her. The FM's brother who works at the airport walked me thru security and sat with me a while at the airport. That was nice. They all seemed to understand how hard it was for me, and felt bad for me.

Now we just wait to hear that the director of PGN has signed off and then she is legally ours and the embassy will issue the visa right away. I am getting everything here ready.

Remember the other little girl with the foster family? She has been with them for 6 months but still has not been matched to a family. Her birthmother had seriously neglected her, and when she relinquished her she told the attorney the girl was 3 years old. The doctor feels she is more like 5 years old, and if you ask her how old she is she tells you 5. She has adjusted well to the foster family. When I was talking to her and playing with her she told me she likes pretty dresses and the color pink. That afternoon, PBJ and I headed to the mall connected ot our hotel and we bought her some new things. A few little dresses, some shoes from Payless, socks, underwear and pj's. I also found a dollar store and we got her coloring books, crayons and some hairties. We gave them to her the next day when they picked up PBJ. I had to guess on sizes but the shoes were perfect and the clothes a little big but would work. She was over the moon. To us it was such a little thing. I routinely spend twice as much at the grocery store. To her, it was unbelievable. She had never had anything like it before. It is amazing how simple it is to make a small child happy. I think when I go down to pick up PBJ I will take her some more things for a very selfish reason. It made me happy to see her happy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New foster Mom is Fantastic!

I saw this little girl today. She was with our new foster family. I kept tickling her and she just laughed and laughed. I hope PBJ grows up this happy and precious.

I just met the new foster mother. Her name is Amalia and she is wonderful. Her brother is one of the doctors that cared for PBJ in the hospital and they live just a few blocks from there. She is wonderful, PBJ took to her instantly and I was crying I was so happy!They are coming back tomorrow morning to pick her up. I am going shopping to stock up on all the formula, diapers, etc that PBJ needs. I want to be sure she has everything she might need.

I will have direct contact with her family and with the doctors down here. The agency said they support our communication 100% and encourage it. That is amazing!! I can't tell you what a relief this is and what a weight is off my shoulders.
She is still doing well. She is teething and a bit grumpy, plus she is running a fever, but she is good.

We are just hanging out and spending time together. I'll have more info later.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

She's improving!

It's hard to get a good picture of her. She tends to list to the side and she has figured out the flash and shuts her eyes as soon as I hold up the camera.

I think her color is much better and to me it looks like her cheeks are fuller.

This morning I got a smile!!! I had to work hard for it, but it was sooo worth it!

Her left side is waking up first. Last night she was able to reach out her left arm to me and open her hand.

Yesterday our attorney took the birthmom to minors court and appeared in front of the judge. Because the BM doesn't speak spanish and is terrified of authorities, she clams up. That's why they thought she was mute. Yesterday she was able to tell the judge thru an interpretor that she understood her rights and was agreeing to the adoption. The judge ruled in our favor. Now the case goes back to the director to sign off and then she is legally ours.

The Consular General of the US Embassy has drafted a letter to the director of PGN requesting him to sign off our case immediately so the child can get the medical help she needs. This is an unusual of thing. It doesn't happen very often. The embassy has shown me extraordinary compassion and been very helpful. I can only think that all the prayers, the e-mails, the faxes and phone calls caused this magic to happen. The embassy is also expediting her visa once we get the signature. She will have her second DNA test Monday or Tuesday.

This all means that we could be bringing her home in as little as two weeks. We are working on finding the perfect foster mom. Thanks to all of you who have given me good info. We are calling around to these women today to see who can take her. God bless all of you who have given me foster mother information. You can imagine how hard it is to leave her with anyone at this point. I couldn't do it if it wasn't for all of your help! I wish I could stay h ere with her, but I need to get home and make arrangements there. I left in such a rush I left a lot undone. I need to see my other kids and my hubby, set up doctor visits, set up the county early intervention program to come assess her as soon as we are home, take care of things at work and a million other things. Then I will head back down here and wait for the day I bring her home. God is great!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Before and after

Update: The embassy contacted me and wants me to come in right away. They are going to issue the slip to do the 2nd DNA test today, and they want to see her medical records. They are going to expedite her visa as soon as we get the Out. AND, the birthmother is in court RIGHT NOW testifying she knows what she is doing and is willingly giving her up. They are also presenting the doctors statements and they are pushing to get signed off right away.

I am off to the embassy, records in tow. God is amazing!!!!!

How she looks today.

My favorite picture from July.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More pix

I made her a little nest and propped her up in front of the TeleTubbies. I figured that they are annoying enough to give her lots of stimulation!

Her little clenched fist. They began relaxing some today. it's sporadic, but her feet are still pulled in and her toes curled.

Major case of bed-head this morning!

The GOOD news. Today she has eaten 43 ounces of formula and some rice cereal (in the bottle) and I don't think she is done. She has slept a lot too. Her color is better. She seems brighter and perkier when she is awake.

Now here is a quiz for all of you. What do you get when you feed a tiny girl that much food and also give her a gigantic dose of strong antibiotics?

Anyone? Anyone? Yep, major poopy-pants. There is definitely nothing wrong with this girl's plumbing!

Visa denied

Well, I got the texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and congressman Brady both involved, but when I went to the Embassy they told me No, not possible. We have to get final sign o ff from PGN so that she is legally ours and then we might be able to get one. Of course, when I asked if they would waive the second DNA test they said No to that too.

So tell me this, if she was legally ours WHY would I NEED an emergency medical visa?????

I lost it. I bawled like a snot-bubble blowin baby. They were very kind, the people behind the (bullet proof) window were nice. They just can't do anything.

So Plan B is now in motion. (Plan A is still a possibility if the Senator and Congressman can work the magic for PBJ) Plan B involves finding the right foster family for PBJ so that she will get the interventions she needs, the medications she needs and the TLC she needs. If I can't bring her home, then I will find the best possible care I can. This isn't the end, just a slight directional adjustment.


Her little feet curl up and pull in too. She is a strange combination of very stiff and yet limp. It's so odd.

Her delight at my shot giving skills.

The great big shot I had the misfortune to have t give PBJ this morning.

can you see the fracture? at the base of the back of her head, with pen marks indicating it? it goes from the middle of the back of her skull to above one ear

Happy B-Day PBJ!!!!

I keep losing my wireless signal and it is causing me great grief! I will be e-mailing or trying to upload pix to this blog and POOF, it's all gone. I will keep trying. If there is one thing about me, I am stubborn!!!

Paula Z - Help! I lost Jeremy and Melissa's info. I don't know where my brain is. Can you help me out? Thanks!!! Send them this e-mail address and have them e-mail me

Now that I have had some time to spend with PBJ I have a better idea of her condition. She is on 3 medicines, one which I have to inject her with (Yikes!). She is on anti-seizure meds that she will be on for years, maybe life. She is on a med to keep the swelling in her brain down, and she is on a powerful antibiotic. In reading thru the medical reports I also found out she had a serious urinary tract infection which did not respond to the normal antibiotics, therefore, she gets the heavy duty stuff now.

She is very thin. I can see every one of her ribs. She had some fat on her in July. A little chub on her thighs. Now she is so thin. She is making up for it though. Yesterday she ate 6 ounces at 5 pm, 5 ounces at 6:30 pm and 6 punces at 9pm. Then she passed out and slept until 6am when she ate 8 oz. She then conked back out and is snoozing away. Each ounce and eaxh ZZZ she catches is helping her to heal. Today I am going to concentrate on just pumping her full of good nutrition and lots of love.

Candy - I don't have access to my regular e-mail. I would LOVE te info from your friend. e-mail me at

Kimberly - Samantha is our guiding light. A beacon of hope. She is gorgeous and obviously thriving. I keep telling Peri Brynn about her and hoping a little girly jealousy kicks in and gets her in a competitve frame of mind. hah!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I have her!

They released her from the hospital to me this evening. I also got all the scans and results. The fracture in her skull goes from the middle of the back of her head around to just in front of her ear. The neurologist here tells me that there shoudl be no permanent effects but that she needs lots and lots of stimulation to re-gain her skills. Right now her arms dangle like wet noodles and her hands stay clenched most of the time. She has a tic sort of thing where she squeezes her eyes shut every so often, doing it several times in a row. Her gaze tends to wander, especially up, but i can get her to focus again if i make funny noises.

All in all, she is doing very well. Tomorrow i hit the embassy. Hard. Full force. I cannot leave her here. i just can't stand that thought. She is on 3 different meds, one for seizures, one for brain swelling and a strong antibiotic. I can't trust that they can find a foster mother who can be depended on to give her the meds correctly (one is an injection) Dear Lord, make this happen for PBJ. She desperately NEEDS her family at this time in her life and on her healing journey.

Tomorrow, I will post pix! I will be anxious to see if anyone else can compare the before and after pix and see the changes.....

Todays Plan

Kimberly, I defnitely could use all the doctor contact info you hvae. You are a Godsend! Hopefully I will be home in a few days with Peri Brynn and then will be aggressively making the medical rounds. Thak you sooo much (and tell Carl I owe him a huge debt, too!)

Julia, please post on your blog. You reach many, many people and we need all the prayers we can get. They have worked the first phase of our miracle already. Now we just need to find compassion at the embassy.

How the hell she got a skull fracture, and didn't even see the doctor until she collapsed in seizures the NEXT DAY? I can't go there right now. All I know is that when she gets out of the hospital today she is coming to me. Not back to the FM. (Remember she was moved from her wonderful FM to a new home about 5 weeks ago.....) I will not let her go back to that foster home.

This morning I will begin the process of apllying for the medical visa. Our agncy has experience in this, luckily. I figure if I have to go sit in their lobby and wail uncontrollably until they give me the visa to just get rid of me, well then I can do that!

The agency had already lined up a parade of babies for me to see today. They were pushing pretty hard for us to pick a new child. I just can't do that. If PBJ was not coming home, ever, then we would have considered it. But no other way.

I was so scared to walk into Peri Brynn's hospital room yesterday. I had read all the neuro info I could get my hands on. Scores to grade damage level, eye positions indicationg hydrocephaly, posturing, etc etc. As I walked n, I could only see part of her face, she had a pillow halfway across her head (she likes to sleep like that, little nut) I pulled back the pillow and her eyes popped wide open and she moved her head to look at me. This was not the semi-comatose child I was expecting. We played te tickle game and she smiled. I would make a noise and she would make it back. She fussed at her arm that was immobilized for the IV. She seemed quiet but that is a side effect of the meds she is on. (Anti-seizure meds and anti-inflammatory meds) The best part, though, she cried when I left. Not that making her cry is good, but it shows me her brain function is really good.

I'll keep postng as I learn things. Thank you all for everything!!!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I met with the doctors and here is what I learned. PBJ has a skull fracture across the back of her head. It probably occurred last Thursday or so, and then swelling caused her to begin having seizures. When they took her to the doctor on Friday, she was very ill. They began giving her meds to reduce the swelling and stop the seizures and she improved. They sent her home Sunday but she seized again so she went right back into the hospital. She has Grade 1 hydrocephaly, probably caused by the trauma. She has extreme weakness in her lower limbs and seems very uncomfortable if you move her legs or hips around much. I asked them to x-ray her back and hips in case there is another break that is causing this. Tonight a pediatric neurologist is seeing her and running more tests. Then tomorrow they plan on releasing her to me. I am going to take all of the doctor reports to the US Embassy and plead for an emergency medical visa. It's a long shot, but her best chance at minimizing the long term damages from this trauma.
She smiled at me. Couldn't take her eyes off of me and acted like she wanted me to hold her. I couldn't because she is literally tied to the bed to keep her IV lines in. But she looked much better than I was expecting. The prayers are working!!!!

Heading to the hospital

As soon as the escort and translator get here we are heading for the hospital. I will see PBJ and have a conference with the doctor. I'll post later. Dear Lord, hear my prayers for this precious baby girl. She needs you right now (and so does her Mommy)

I made it

I am here, safe and sound. I still don't know anything. I have about one nerve left and it is stretched to the max right now. If I don't start getting some answers soon I am going to lose it.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I have had no news since Saturday. The agency has been unsuccessful in getting the doctor to fax the scan results (it's the weekend, and apparently the doc is off) I have no idea how she is doing, if she is in the hospital, if they found a specialist or if she had surgery.

You know, a few weeks ago when her case got sent to investigation, I was talking with a friend and joking that at least nothing else could go wrong. We had already hit every stumbling block possible. How wrong I was.

Hopefully later today I will have news. I fly down tomorrow morning so at the very latest I will be getting the real scoop by tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


First, thank you so much for the prayers and support. It has absolutely blown me away and yet it has lifted me up and given me the strength to keep moving forward.

We still don't know much about PBJ's condition. I just don't know how she could have deteriorated so fast. Or if she is even as bad as they made it sound. Not knowing is the worst. I have a flight down there early Tuesday morning. Tomorrow I will make arrangements here to have doctors ready to look over her records and give me opinions. I will be meeting with her doctors down there Tuesday afternoon and get copies of all the records to send up here. It is also possible we might be able to get her a medical visa to come to the US immediately. We will try but the US Embassy has not been very supportive of that type of thing, especially not with all the other issues going on right now. I can't even depend on our own government to help us.

I will be travelling alone but a dear friend suggested that our mutual friends who are missionaries down there could come be with me and provide emotional support. The thought of having to do this alone is terrifying and I am so grateful to have someone there to lean on.

I will keep updating as often as I get information. Thank you, all of you, again. Your comments and prayers are wrapped around me like a great nig hug!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

How Do I Even Say This???

Update: In the past 24 hours PBJ has gone downhill. The scan of her brain shows she has hydrocephaly and that the pressure has cutoff blood to important parts of her brain. They are searching for a surgeon who can perform the tricky procedure to insert a shunt to try and save what parts are not damaged, but it may be too late. There seems to be little hope of saving my precious daughter at this point. Please, God, if she is meant to be with you, take her quickly and painlessly. Give her her wings and make her perfect. I am booking my trip now.

Something is wrong. Very very wrong with PBJ. I got an e-mail yesterday morning form the agency telling me they had her scheduled to see the specialist for her head. It was just precautionary, to be sure nothing was really wrong. Then, later, I got a call. Before they could take Peri Brynn to the doctor, the foster mother called in apanic to say she had collapsed. She was laying there playing and she just collapsed. The coordinator scrambled and got her to the doctor right away. The doctor was so concerned by her un-responsiveness and lack of muscle tone that he first immediately ordered blood work to see if she had ingested poison or some drug. When that was negative, they had her scheduled for a head scan and a series of x-rays. They were trying to get it all done last night, but maybe had to finish up today. They will call us later with the results.

Here is where I am so thankful for a good agency. They are just as worried as I am. In fact, the director broke down on the phone and was crying because she was so upset. We talked for a long time. She said she thought I needed to go down there immediately, but I want to see what the results are so I can do some research before I head out. She said they have other children I can meet and I can have my pick. She said that she has a family with a grant for a special needs child and she can place Peri Brynn with them. The unspoken word was ....if she lived.

I am trying to stay positive. I know she was trying to prepare me for the worst case scenario, but I have to believe it will be OK.

Please pray for my sweet child. It is so hard to be so far away and not know anything, not be able to hold her and see for myself or make decisions based on reality. I have never been so scared.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My evening

Let me tell you about my evening. I had told Katie I would pick her up at school since we had planned a trip to the mall. As usual, I was running late at work, so I sent her a (garbled) text message to catch a ride home. Too late, the bus and her ride had already left. While trying to text her (I suck at it) I accidentally missed an important step in the assay I was setting up and had to re-set things and fix it before I could leave. Luckily, my lovely co-worker Ms. C stepped in and rescued me. I ended up only being 20 minutes late.

While on my way to the high school, my cell phone rings. It's Katie. "Where are you?" I tell her and hang up. Ten minutes later, ring. "Where are you?" I tell her and hang up. Five minutes later, repeat previous sequence. I finally get to within 50 feet of the entrance to the school, but a train is passing and all traffic is stopped. I can see where I want to go, but cannot get there. I toyed briefly with making my mini-van an off-road vehicle, but decided that the cop directing traffic would surely see me and I don't look good in an orange jumpsuit so I wait not-so-patiently.

I don't usually try and hit the mall, or anywhere other than the grocery store, on a week night, but we had a mission. Saturday is homecoming. The last two weekends Katie has gone shopping for a dress. I first told her she had to wear one she already had, but she begged and whined and pleaded and drove me insane about it, so I gave her a budget. Last weekend while shopping she found the dress and shoes she wanted. BUT......they were twice what her budget was. She succumbed to the pressure of her friends and whipped out Mama's debit card and bought them. I think she felt guilty about it, but she still tried to defend the purchase. I heard the usual. Everyone got a dress. Hmmm. So last night we went back to the mall and returned the dress and shoes, with absolutely no complaining from Katie. She really is a terrific kid. We could easily afford the dress and shoes, but the lesson she learned was more important. Sometimes you just have to think about things in a bigger way. Yes, we could have the dress and shoes, but in the bigger scheme of things, wouldn't that money be better spent elsewhere....... like saving for a car?

Anyway, we fight traffic to the mall, make our returns and head home. Being the super-mom that I am I pick up corn dogs from Sonic for the kids. Ahhh, the food of champions. Hey, they ate them with ketchup so that covered at least 3 food groups!

Finally, I sit down and pull out the new sweater pattern, the first yarn and the pattern. I carefully cast on, counting the stiches 3 times. I pay close attention to the tension so the stiches will be nice and even. The next step is to begin knitting the ribbing. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2 purl 2.
Halfway down the row, Chris comes in. He wants to know how to get a hummingbird out of the garage. I put down the yarn and fill a new feeder for him to hang on the open garage door. Back to the knitting. I begin the second row.....but wait, my ribs don't line up! I rip it out and carefully start again. Chris comes back in. The hummingbird is buzzing all over in the roof of the garage chirping like crazy. It only knows how to fly up and won't come out. He tried scaring it out with a long stick but it only got more frantic. I told him to just leave it alone. It's dark now and it probably won't come out. We talk for alittle bit about whether a hummingbird would nest in a garage (no idea) and other such worldly tidbits. I knit some more and realize that I end with an odd number of stitches. Crap! I rip it out again. This time I pour a glass of wine, in an attempt to channel the Yarn Harlot, and try again. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2. Hey wait, Grey's Anatomy is on. Change the channel and settle in again. Knit 2, purl 2, Levi, give me back my yarn! The phone rings. Hello, this is your crdit card company wanting to send you a package of blah blah costs nothing blah blah Not Interested. Hang up. Knit 2 purl 2 knit argghhh! The ribs are not lining up again. Thats it. Back in the bag. I will deal with your ugly self tomorrow!

Maybe I should knit at work. It's much calmer there......

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chatty Cathy, er, Levi

This morning Levi woke up extra early and decided to keep me company while I was getting ready. The constant stream of dialogue was entertaining as I went about the morning routine. It went something like this.

Mommy, do chickens have butts? Do clocks have butts? Do toothbrushes have butts? Do butts have butts? (See a theme here???) Smell me. Do I smell good? I had a bath. I smell good. Smell me again! Why are you doing that? I kissed the mirror. Where is Max? Max? Max? Max? Max is in the closet. Mommy, is it dark outside? Why is it dark? Is it night-night time? Where's Daddy? I don't like tighty whiteys. They are um, um, um too big. (As he strips off his pants) Mommy, is this my butt? What is this? Can I have some? Is Nanny here yet? I want some pants. I like pants. I want jeans. Jeans are my favorite. Do I have any jeans? Are they wet? Can I wear them? Do they have an adjustable waist? (He really said that) Can I have some of your hair stuff? Please? I want to look cool. Just a little?

By this time I had managed to brush my teeth. About 60 seconds had elapsed.....

Mommy, where is Max. Max? Max? Does Max have a butt? Oooh, I tooted. Hahahah Hahahahahahahhah. Am I your precious boy? Do I stink? I don't stink. Not anymore. I smell good. I brushed my teeth. Se how white they are? They are shiny. See? See? Do you smell good? Can I smell you? You smell good Mommy! Where is Nanny? Is she coming? Is that her? Is that gone? It's all gone Mommy. All gone. Will you get some more? Can I have some Chapstick? Smell my lips Mommy. Smell my lips. Do they smell good?

This continued for about 30 minutes with random comments by me. Mostly he just talked and entertained himself. I left for work feeling slightly light-headed and with a buzzing in my ears (But a huge smile on my face) Ahh, the days when I anxiously awaited his first word.....

I heard one of the funniest comments today and I just have to share. A friend of mine is going through a situation where the husband's ex is making life miserable for everyone. Apparently the ex was talking trash to my friend's step daughter and she referred to my friend as 'The Stupid Chinese Wife', giggling like she thought that was hysterical. Why do I think that is so funny? Because my friend is neither stupid nor Chinese! My friend's reaction was, "If you are going to talk trash about someone, at least get their ethnicity right so you don't look like an even bigger idiot!"

My friend has a a wonderful way of letting things like this just roll off of her. She has the self-confidence to not let it get to her. Actually, I think that confidence is what makes the other woman so crazy.

Is there any such thing as Politically Correct Trash Talk????? How about "You horizontally challenged, low-end IQ person of alternate origin" or "Mentally-limited pigmentally alternate non-thin person" I would love to hear a Gangsta Rap done with all PC verbage......

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Another bump in the road

Before we visited in July our Good Agency had told us that their coordinator in Guatemala was concerned about the size of PBJ's head. It is very large. The doctor thought it was fine and the foster mother thought she was fine too. But, as we all know, medical care in Guat isn't the same as what we are accustomed to in the USA. The fact that they were concerned was enough for me to be concerned too.
Once I saw her I realized that part of the problem was that the back of her head is as flat as a pancake, and it has expanded sideways and upward in the back to compensate. Add to that the fact that she is a tiny little peanut which makes her head look even larger. Hopefully in these photos you can get an idea of what I am talking about.
Developmentally she was very delayed. She was just over 9 months old but had the development of about a 4 month old. She could not sit up, even assisted. She couldn't bear any weight on her legs. She wasn't rolling in either direction. At the beginning of the week we had her she wouldn't reach out and grasp a toy held in front of her, but by the end of the week she had mastered that one. She had overall poor muscle tone. She had no pincer grasp and appeared to just be learning to grasp with her whole fist. She did interact well, kept good eye contact, made noises back and forth, laughed at funny things appropriately and communicated her needs clearly.

Her fontanels (soft spots) were of normal size and not bulging so she didn't appear to have a fluid build up as far as I could tell. Her hearing and sight seemed fine. She ate and slept like a champ. She seemed like a normal baby who had very little stimulation and was just behind. There is a helmet in her future to re-shape her head, but our doctor here felt she was not delayed due to any organic issues.

Today I got an e-mail from our Good Agency and they are again quite concerned about PBJ's head. They suggested I fly down and go with her to see a specialist. I have asked that they get me an update on her development. I gave them a list of milestones to look at. Depending on what they find, I may be heading to Guat very soon. Honestly, I think she is fine. My Mommy radar did not go off when I was with her, and I usually have very good instincts. Levi had such a big head they did a CT scan when he was 15 months old. From that expereince I knew what to look for and what warning signs would be. PBJ had none of them.

What she needs is to get here, home with us, and so that we can start early interventions right away. Get the helmet, get her health and development assessed, see the specialists, start therapy and stimulation exercises. We have all of that ready and set to go, we just need the baby!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Soapbox warning

There is a huge crisis in adoptions in Guatemala going on. The uncertainty of implementing the Hague (worldwide adoption guidelines) coupled with the political upheaval surrounding the presidential elections there has created a volitile adoption environment. It's anyone's guess what each day will bring, what new twist will be revealed and if/when things will settle down. To me, there are 3 main elements that have contributed to the current situation. The first is the extreme poverty that most Guatemalans deal with every day. The majority of the country lives in huts built from whatever scrap wood and metal they can find. They scavenge for wood every day to keep the fire in their hut burning. They work the fields on the sides of the mountains by hand, trying to grow enough food to feed their families but hopefully a little extra to sell at the open market. Trying to wrap my mind around how their lives really are is like trying to imagine how bit the universe is. Conceptually I know it but I just can't really understand it. It is so incredibly different than anything I have ever experienced.

The second contributing factor is the lack of education and availability of birth control to the majority of the women. More than 70% of Guatemalan women are illiterate and have never been to school. They are unaware of birth control or have no means of getting it. Pharmacies in the bigger towns and cities carry birth control (over the counter, no prescription needed) but how can the women afford it or even travel to get it? It might as well be on Jupiter for all the access they have. Add to that the cultural aspects of the male pride in fathering children and these women have very little control over pregnancy.
The third issue I see is that Guatemala has a private adoption system, not a government controlled system. Many people have capitalized on this and the amount of money to be made is astronomical even by U.S. standards. If a facilitator can charge $20,000 per child (or more) it is easy to see what the attraction is. Greed is a powerful thing. It corrupts, it infects, it destroys. This has led facilitators (the attorneys who have the power to do adoptions in Guat) to 'recruit' pregnant women, to send 'handlers' out into the countryside searching for women who want/need to give up a child.
Picture this. A young mother already has 3 children but she can barely feed them. The youngest is sickly and she fears for her child's life. She is pregnant again. A kind (acting) person tells her that she can give up the new baby for adoption, the baby will go to America and live a life of riches and opportunities. Plus, the mother will be given a small amount of money to assist her (small to us, say $600, but enough for her to feed her family for a year and to get medicine for her child) This kind person will transport her back and forth to sign the papers and pay for her travel and meals on these trips. The young mother readily agrees. She has no other options.
The poverty, the lack of birth control, and the private system of adoptions come together like this when it runs smoothly and fairly. Then there are the horror stories of stolen babies sold for adoption (the main reason the U.S. requires DNA testing on mothers and children) babies switched during the process, women tricked into giving up children they really want, and the worst, women giving birth to child after child to earn a living. It happens. It is the reality of the weaknesses in the system. Babies as commodities. Every adoptive parents nightmare.
We can't fix the level of poverty in Guatemala. We can't fix the lack of education and availability of birth control easily. But, there are things we can do. We need to stand strong and keep pushing for Guatemala to become Hague compliant, and to do so in a way that corrects the weaknesses in their private system. We need to assist them in implementing new regulations that support and control adoptions so the corruption stops. We need to push our government to continue Guat adoptions but to hold Guatemala to a higher standard. A standard that protects the children. A standard and a system that puts the children first. A system that works.
It's going to get worse before it gets better. There are going to be children left behind. There will be struggles to get children to their forever homes. It's going to get pretty ugly. But, in the long run it needs to change so that the children are protected.
I never expected to be involved in this. I just wanted more kids. A sweet and happy wish. God has led me on a quite different path. Even if we never bring home our children, it will not have been in vain. God is working through us to help build a better future for many many children. We are part of a much bigger plan. Thank you God, for trusting us this much. For using us to make a difference. We won't let you down.
I now step down from my soapbox........

Monday, October 01, 2007

By the seat of my pants

Thank you everyone who was so kind about my last post. Two years ago when we started out on this adventure I never imagined we would be in this place now. I only had thoughts of three little munchkins in the tub, Christmas with three little munchkins opening presents, and pictures with three very different little munchkins all in a rowand dressed alike. I'm glad no one told me what we were heading for. Then again, I never would have believed it.

Today I had the great pleasure of placing the order for a brand-new Rainbow Play System. Has anyone checked these out lately? These are play systems that make the old-fashioned swing sets look like cavemen designed them. These things come so big that they have to verify the dimensions of your yard before they will install them. (They have actually run into yards where the systems don't fit unless you place the slide into the kitchen) Note that these are 'play systems' not play sets or swing sets. These are highly technical, designed by engioneers, fit to NASA specifications systems. Long gone are simple swings and slides. Now there are rock-climbing walls, fire poles, multi-levelled castles, hidden hide-aways and fifteen types of slides. The catalog is bigger than my Genetics textbook from college. The sheer number of brightly-colored choices left me dazed, but add to it the bazillion options available for each design and I wanted to run screaming into the night. Green slide or yellow slide? Curved or straight? Two swings or three? Tire swing or sand box? Ladder or rock wall? And on and on and on. It was a relief to just order the darn thing. The pressure was killing me!

Someone asked where I got the sweater kit (including 6 skeins of all-cotton yarn) from for $16.99. The answer is Lion Brand Yarns. They are having a clearance sale. I figure if I mess it up totally at least it won't bother me much since I didn't spend much on it in the first place. I got the shipment this weekend but have told myself I have to finish my other projects before I can start this one. I want to be able to concentrate (Yeah, right, with an active 4 yr old running around.....) So I have a hat/carseat blanket combo almost finished, then a toddler hat/scarf to knit. I should be started on the sweater later this week. Someone else wanted to know when I find time to knit. Well, lately, I have found the hours between 1 am and 4 am to be perfect. (I am having a little trouble sleeping it seems) Otherwise, I knit a little here and there. That's another reason I like mindless projects that don't take complicated patterns. I like things I can pick up and put down 5000 times and not lose my mind trying to remember what row I am on or whether I decreased or not on the last round. I like to just make it up as I go. Kind of like the way I cook. Totally by the seat of my pants.