Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Almost One Year Ago...

I can't believe that it's almost been a year. One year since we got our referral. One year since Miles entered our family. One year since my most favorite birthday ever.

Miles has grown so much. He is a happy, well-adjusted, funny, smart, curious little boy. He is talking up a storm...he's our human sponge. His eyes will light up a room, not to mention everyone's hearts.

After reading back at the posts from last year. Our hearts were hurting. We were struggling with patience and the unknown. We were beginning to lose it. And then, we got a little glimpse of hope. It was one year ago yesterday, September 10, 2011, that our referral to Miles was received by the Ministry. Our 6 month deadline was September 11th. Talk about a close call!

So, this time a year ago, Miles was a part of our family, but we wouldn't find out until the 23rd...

More to come later this month. Here are two more recent photos of Mr. Miles.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Almost 2 months...

Well, we’ve almost been home for 2 months! I can’t believe how time is flying and how well Miles is doing! Jeff went back to work the Monday after we got back and I was officially a stay at home mom! What a change! I went from working 40 hours a week to being a mom 24/7…and I love it!

Miles has the best pediatrician in the world! She is so great with him and she answers all of my questions, even when it’s an email at 10pm at night. Great, right? Well, for the most part, Miles is completely healthy! We were able to treat all of the parasites in Africa, so he didn’t bring any unwelcome guests home with him. He did have a little bald spot on his head. It turned out to be ringworm, which wasn’t contagious (thank goodness because we were all kissing his cute bald spot before we knew what it was!), but is only treated with these giant horse pills for 6 weeks! Yikes! He’s almost done and he’s growing hair like crazy!

When we were in Africa we found out that he had been in full leg casts, which were removed in May. We saw an orthopedic specialist today and he said Miles is just fine! It was just a precaution, but I’m glad that we saw Dr. Early.

Our final hurdle is lead. His first test came back with an elevated level of lead in his blood, so we had to do a more thorough blood test today and we will see what the new lead level is now. Please pray with us that the level is normal and that he is fine. J

Miles is talking up a storm! He is repeating words and his first English words that he said without being prompted were “Oh my gosh!” (He learned from my mom and he loves saying it all the time!) He has also started to use the potty at times. We aren’t pushing it, but we just ask if he wants to go on the potty and he says “Yeah!”

Andrea and Joe love their little brother! He calls Joe “Joe-Joe” and he is saying “Andrea” loud and clear! He sees their pictures on the wall and points and says their names. For only being here less than 2 months, he is doing awesome! He loves his two dogs and two cats; although the cats don’t reciprocate that love just yet…He is doing great with friends too! He decorated cookies with Bailey this week and they are learning to share with each other. He also helped our neighbor put up Christmas lights! (Special shout out to our neighbors, Colin and Debi!)

We love all of the firsts that we are experiencing. He is seriously just amazing and the perfect fit for our family! We will try to post more pictures now that we are starting to get into the swing of things. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Meeting Miles Video

It's almost 10pm here on Sunday night, October 16th, in Nairobi. Andrea is editing images from our safari today. (It was amazing.) Joe has his headphones on and is busy on Facebook. And Maddie and Miles are trying to go to sleep.

We have a big day tomorrow... Miles' second day at the medical clinic and then off to the embassy. Prayers please. We hope to have a quick finish and get home.

Thinking back to that first day back on September 30th, seems like ages ago. We've come a long way since that first encounter. With Miles, laughter is more frequent, crying less frequent (usually when he wants his way... he is 2 after all), and each day is a new adventure. Yesterday he learned how to drink from a straw and experienced soda for the first time. Today, Joe introduced him to headphones. The two of them dancing was excellent. And finally, we're all back to good health, except for home sickness, which we all have.

Like I mentioned earlier, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We're longing for a quick return home.

Now for your viewing pleasure... As promised, here's a short video of our trip to Kigali and our first time meeting Miles.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lots of Updates!

Sorry, we haven't been the best bloggers over the past few days...

So much has happened! Here's the nitty gritty...

We got our passport for Miles in 4 days! This is awesome news! We have an emergency appointment tomorrow (Thursday) at the Embassy in Kigali. This will enable us to go to Nairobi early so we can get Miles' medical appointments done. Since he is over 2 years old, he has to have a TB test. We are praying that we will follow suit of 2 other families who processed through Nairobi in 1 day! (after medicals that is) If all goes well, we will be back home by 3:30pm next Wednesday! 

A few other things to touch on...

Our POA Peter is just...AMAZING! We can't imagine doing any of this without his help. His family is wonderful and we were able to worship with him at his church last Sunday. We also visited his house and we able to bless one of his neighbors with food and love. More on that later too! 

Miles is totally meant to be in our family. We found out that he had been previously referred to a family and they said no! How could someone say "No" to my little boy? I'm glad they did because he is ours. He is a Hendrych! 

Okay, well it's late, I'm tired, Miles wants me and we have a busy day! 

More updates to come, we promise!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

He's ours!

The courtroom was a cozy place. Packed in were three adoptive families, a few lawyers with their clients, and ten very well-behaved jailbirds dressed in pink. In the first item of business, the judge called the Hendrych family to come forward. With the assistance of our lawyer, Norbert, Maddie and I took our position at a podium in front of the judge's desk. The judge then read his ruling out loud (in French), signed the order, and with that...

Miles Joseph Hendrych is ours!

On top of that, against all odds, we got the ruling in time to make it to the passport office and stay on schedule. More on this topic later.

We have been blessed over and over on this trip. I am in awe of what can only be God's careful positioning of people and circumstances to help us through this process. Maddie and I would like to thank each of you for your prayers. They're working. Please keep them going, as the toughest part of our journey has yet to come.

Please enjoy these photos taken over the last week. You can click them to enlarge. More photos and a video to come...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Heavy Day

We began Tuesday with a visit to the Rwanda Genocide Memorial. We wanted to go during our trip, and Peter suggest we do it now. It's not a place for small children.

The memorial is a fitting and respectful tribute to the 1,000,000 men, women, and small children who were systematically killed in a period of just 100 days in the spring of 1994. The exhibits begins back in colonial times and traces the origin of the hatred that spilled out in the genocide. The site is also a mass grave, holding the remains of more than 250,000 of those killed. Mourners still come to the site to pay respects. The toughest part of the exhibit was the children's section. I noticed a few of the visitors wiping tears as they passed through this section. I can't say I escaped without shedding a few myself. Joe asked me how it's possible people could do this. I still don't have an answer.

One of the mass graves on the Memorial Centre site
The children's exhibit

The most interesting aspect of the genocide in Rwanda isn't the brutality. Other such human catastrophes share the cruelty and the numbers of those killed. What makes Rwanda different is the recovery they've made in just 17 years. They're back on their feet economically, the streets are safe, and national unity is a top priority. You can imagine what would happen to a country of this size (about the size of Vermont) with all of those deaths and the mass exodus of more than 2,000,000 refugees who were escaping for their lives or for fear of being retaliated against. But Rwanda isn't your usual country. They have a tremendous source of pride and are working hard to be the star of Africa. As for justice, there was simply no way to prosecute and jail all of those responsible. Instead of retribution, the court system promoted reconciliation by offering those accused the opportunity admit their crimes and seek forgiveness while still serving some time. With all of that violence, time will tell if this formula breaks the cycle that began hundreds of years ago. But they're off to a good start.

If you want to see what we saw, you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre website.

In the afternoon, Peter took us to lunch at another authentic African restaurant. Good stuff! I really like African food. There are the usuals... beans and rice and potatoes and a lot of stew-like dishes to mix in. Then there's matoke, which is a banana that tastes like potato and is served either mashed or with vegetables. Yum. I think every culture has its tortilla. Some call it pita or whatever. Here it's kaunga, a thick bread that's grilled but is still slightly doughy. It's good. There's a lot of salads and fruit. It's a lot more normal than we thought it would be.

Lunch with Peter and Julius at African Bite

However, the restroom situation is NOT normal, but it's not what you might think. Many of the signs here are in French and many of the bathroom rules are different. At the restaurant, Maddie wandered into a restroom only to encounter a gentleman using a urinal. She exited in a panic. Can you IMAGINE the look on her face? She inquired where she should go with a restaurant employee who was standing nearby. He told her to go back in. "It's OK," he said. Apparently, unisex restrooms are not just on Ally McBeal. I walked up a few moments later, making sure she was OK. After a few moments, she emerged with extremely wide eyes and that uncontrollable Maddie smile. We laughed all the way back to the table. Only Maddie.

In the afternoon, we visited with Miles at the Home of Hope. It wasn't a very good visit. We were in a funk, partly from what we experienced at the memorial centre earlier in the day and partly because Miles wasn't in the mood for visiting with his new "muzungu" friends. (Muzungu is the local term for white folks... it means "confused person wandering about" in Swahili). We held him for a long while but he didn't want to play. He smiled once or twice, but for the most part, he was Mr. Serious. When it was time to go, we got to take him down the stairs and see where he and his little roommates live in the orphanage. That will be another story for another time.

A little discouraged, we departed back for the guest house. Tomorrow's another day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 4 - The Act d'Adoption

October 3, 2011

The Sisters signing the Act d'Adoption

Jeff signing

Me signing!

Today began with a big step. Jeff and I signed the Act d'Adoption, which is the official adoption document at the sector level. This document IS the adoption. The remaining steps are simply final approvals of our act. It was signed by the district head later in the day. We go to court later in the week for a judge to sign off.

The day started when Peter, our POA, picked us up at the guest house around 8am. We all piled into our wonderful white Toyota van, driven by Julius. Julius is an amazing driver and parker. It's amazing where he can squeeze that van. We drove about 15 minutes through traffic, pedestrians, motorbikes, and trucks in what's almost a high-speed, chaotic dance. Back at home, we shriek when someone gets within yards of our car on the road. Over here, cars get within inches of pedestrians, bikes, chickens, anything... and nobody even flinches.

We met Norbert (our lawyer's partner) at the sector court. We hopped a curb (there are no driveways...everyone hops curbs) and walked down a dimly lit hallway into the 2nd door on our left. Inside there were two assistants filling out giant ledgers in a tiny sweltering office. I'm sure it was cool at some point during the morning, but after you cram 10 people in a small office and another 5-10 in the hallway outside, it's a hot mess.

Sisters from the orphanage came and signed their approval of the adoption. After a few minutes, the Act d'Adoption was ready for us to sign. We each had to sign three times! Jeff signed the documents and then I went up to sign. It's amazing that after all of the waiting, paperwork, sleepless nights, fundraisers, etc., these are some of the most important signatures that we will ever pen, announcing to the world that we LOVE our BOY and that God has chosen HIM to be with US. Who knew that six signatures could cause so much emotion?

After we finished up at the sector court, we headed off to the Home of Hope. On our journey to the orphanage, Peter gave us the original photo of Miles. This is the first photo of our boy, standing on a stool, with a cute little outfit. This image that I have studied so much... I know his eyes, his lips, his ears, his hands. I have THAT photo in my hand... the ACTUAL photo!

While we continued on the bumpy road to see our boy, Peter told us that Miles was found when he was just two months old. I thought about this for a moment. If he was two months old and at the orphanage in July 2009, why wasn't he adopted with a family that requested a baby and traveled to Rwanda in January 2010? March 2010? Anytime 2010 or the beginning of 2011? He was and is a healthy boy and would've surely met someone's specifications. The only reason that I can come up with is that he is MEANT to be in our family. There's something about the finality of that... that he was chosen for our family... for me to love and call my son. I know that no matter how hard these few days, weeks and months may be, I know that I need him and he needs me.

Once we arrived at the orphanage, the nuns went to go get Miles (to them it's Ignatius or "natius" as he is called) and we waited to see him walk up the little hill. He cried when he had to be given to us (he still just loves those sisters!) but his crying didn't last long. He is still very stoic, but that's okay. We have all the time in the world, and we know just a little bit about being patient. (This was the morning visit. Our afternoon visit is where a little bit of magic happened.) Once the visit was over, he waved to us, but felt the most secure in the sister's white habit.

We left for lunch at Afrika Bite (pronounced "bee-tay" which means "what's up?" in Swahili). It was a buffet-style meal, served with Peter's favorite passion fruit juice. Yum. The food was wonderful and gave us all a little bit of the region's flavor. After lunch, we came back to the guest house to rest/nap and then headed back to the orphanage to see our little man again.

Once Miles calmed down (minute or so), we had a very nice visit. We read some books and tried to play with the car. It turned out he had the most fun taking things out of his backpack and then immediately putting them back into his backpack. Keeping his things organized? A child after my own heart!

Then the magic happened. I took a drink out of my water bottle and he looked at me, put his hands out, asking for the water. So, I handed him the water bottle and he started to chug it down. After each sip, we clapped and praised him, and then immediately asked for a high five. He did it! Several chugs and high fives later, we even got to see his elusive smile! It was a great moment. Progress.

Andrea, sound asleep under her "princess" mosquito net

We are all starting to feel a little sick, in various ways. I'm in a perpetual state of...well, you really don't want to know. Let's just say if Imodium had a Facebook page, I'd "like" it. Joe's strep throat has gotten better with antibiotics, and Jeff felt a little flu-like during the night. Andrea has fared the best thus far, just being tired...so tired that she skipped dinner tonight. We'll get through it. We have our eyes on the prize.

A beautiful boy has entered our family. We love him so much already and can hardly wait to get back home and start living!