Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Addison

Well, Christmas Eve is here and we are just 3 days away from the one year anniversary of announcing to our friends and family that we were going to adopt a baby girl from Kyrgyzstan. We always thought that we would have the new little one home by Christmas but Addison's first Christmas is going to pass her by without us. I pray that she is happy, warm, healthy and can feel our love from afar. There is a little present under the tree for Addison and I hope that in the years to come that the ornament will remind her of how much she was loved, long before she lived in our home. She has been in our hearts for many months and hopefully 2009 will bring her home. We love you Addison!




The new pictures ( same outfit) were taken by one of the orphanage workers since the director is not allowing our coordinator in the building. We are so grateful to see her looking so good.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our little butterball!



Finally something happy to report. We were able to get new pictures of Addison this week, thanks to another American that was visiting. I have to admit that this is by far the best that we have seen her look. She actually has some cheeks and a little fat on her fingers. There is also a nice picture of her interacting with one of the caregivers which was so comforting to see. We are so relieved!!! The health situation at her orphanage is far from good at this time and I am glad to see that she has a little reserve available now. Let's hope that she does not have to weather the entire winter there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A day of tears

Our adoption journey continues to catch me off guard and today is one of them. We have had a month of incredibly discouraging news. There was the second lost court date, warnings from the State Department, a worsening energy crisis, utter confusion on the state of adoption in Kyrgyzstan, and Addison turning seven months old without us. I feel like I have been hit by a truck. Why today, you may be asking ??? I know exactly why and I have decided that at the end of day, the tears and emotions are OK.

First, over the last 2 weeks, I have put Addison at arms length, instead of right next to my heart. Not because I am doubting our decision to adopt her but because the thought of her not coming home was more than I could deal with. I spent the last two weeks focusing on our two perfect children, my wonderful husband and all the other precious gifts that I have been given. I have reveled in the sweet things that my kiddos say to me and soaked up all the hugs and kisses. I just breathed them in. It is not that I have ever taken my children for granted but I think that sometimes life takes over and we forget to just stop and enjoy. This adoption has occupied a lot of my emotional energy lately and it was great to stop and just smell the roses. I am a very lucky mom!

Today, good friends of ours had a beautiful baby boy, the baby that has been pre-determined to be Addison's playmate for about 9 months. I am not jealous or sad that we are not having another baby but that our baby, Addison, is not here to be part of our plans. Shortly after their call, and over a month since our last update, we got a brief email on Addison from another visiting American. She apparently looks good but is quite weak which just breaks my hurt and worries me so. Instantly, she went from being far away to next to my heart again. I can't stand the thought of her not getting everything that she needs on this earth! She needs and deserves to be showered with attention, security and all the love that our family and our friends have to offer which is a TON. Well, so much for being "strong" and realistic. That precious orphan is ours, Addison is ours and I want her home!

The tears are OK. They were tears of joy for the wonderful children that I have, including Addison, and tears of sadness because she needs to be with us now.

Maybe there will be more news "next week".....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or Treat

How great to be a kid!





The simple things in life - a lollipop and a pencil!

Our Rollercoaster Ride

Well, the last 2 weeks have been incredibly challenging, to say the least. The highs were high and the lows were the lowest that we,ve had. To make the journey all the more painful, the changes have been fast and furious. I don't like rollercoasters even at the amusement parks and this ride is one that I want to get off of. The problem is that we have to get off WITH Addison so we are stuck. I am still waiting for compassion or even greed, to move the government of Kyrgyzstan but so far there does not seem to be a lot of budging. Maybe "this week"....

On a more positive note, we got a ton of pictures of Addison from a visiting family. THANK YOU!!!





I love the picture with her getting weighed. That is accuracy at it's finest! I am presenting a lecture to our peds residents next week on Failure to Thrive and that picture is going to be a must. It will drive home the importance of NAKED weighs! I created the lecture a year ago and I never would have thought that it would be so near and dear to my heart.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The lady returns.....

Well, after a month of waiting for the Adoption Specialist to return from her trip so that we could have court, there is NO good news to report. The last minute change this time around is that instead of proceeding with court, we now have to have a new approving signature from the Minister of Education ( MOE) in Bishkek. Now why they did not decide that 4 months ago when we left there, well, there is no compassionate explanation. As most of you know, it probably does not matter anyway because no one has made progress is Bishkek in many, many moons anyway so our letter will just join the stack with many of the other desperately waiting families. What kills us is that once again, we felt like we were within reach of having our little one home and at the last minute things came to a halt. Luckily, I was more prepared this time around and am doing my best to keep my chin up. I promised myself that I would not fall as hard as I did last time. Now, I just have to keep praying that things will start to move forward for all of us waiting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I love Maria!

Well, my new hero is a fellow adoptive parent, noticed that she is no longer a prospective adoptive parent because she picked up her Princess today! Thanks to Maria, we were blessed with NINE new pictures and a full update, including a weight, feeding information, and an interview with her care provider!!! I just can't tell you how wonderful it was to have an American mom look in on our little one. She thinks that Addison looks good and I have to agree. Her coloring is better, her eyes sparkle more, and her fingers have a little baby fat on them. Now if I can just stop staring at her... She is just adorable!



Sunday, October 12, 2008

6 months old and blowing kisses

Well, our precious baby girl turned 6 months old on Friday, Oct 10th.

I think I will mark this milestone with the words of her 4 year old brother Alec. The night before, out of nowhere, he started blowing kisses to the ceiling and announced, " I'm blowing kisses to heaven so God can give them to Addison." She got about a dozen so I hope that she felt showered in love that day. Boy, is she going to be loved when we get her home.....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sweet baby girl


Well, after about 2 weeks in a funk I have collected myself again. No new news on the court situation but we got some precious pictures of Addison yesterday. She is looking the best I have seen! Boy, I needed these. It is like she is telling me, "I'm OK Mom." The reports from 2 weeks ago were not so encouraging but she seems to be rallying. We were able to get some detailed information from our coordinator about her feeds, ect... which I am grateful for. We were also able to learn about the how the energy crisis is specifically affecting Tokmok. At this time, they do not have electricity about 4 hours a day ( 1/2 at night, 1/2 during the day) but have a small stove that they are using to warm bottles, ect... Hopefully this winter will be a mild one.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My saddest day

I guess it is time to tell our whole story and it is so different from what I have been excitedly waiting to blog about. Last week we were told that we had finally been granted a court date for next week. September 25th was going to be a huge days of celebration for the Bilyeu family! We were ecstatic about it particularly because our coordinator had been called by the courts, asking for our documents and then a few days later set a court date. This was the first true movement since we left two and a half months ago and it had been initiated by the court instead of by our coordinator. I just knew that things were going to be OK for Addison. We were going to actually have travel dates by the end of next week and I could hardly contain my excitement. We were going to get our precious baby home! Ansley and I did a little baby shopping and we were making plan to finally paint and decorate the nursery for next weekend. Life was good and I finally felt like I could breathe again.

Today, we were notified that we were no longer have a court date. Apparently, in addition to the judge and our coordinator, an adoption specialist from Tokok has to be present at court. By report she was notified of the date and our coordinator talked to her and all was OK. Then today our coordinator called to make sure that everything we set for next week, you know just 6 days away, and the adoption specialist left for Italy yesterday. Get this she is going to be gone for a MONTH so no court for us. No new date can even be ventured at at this time. Of course, I will let you all read between the lines but I find this whole story very difficult to swallow. I am going to leave it at that because I am so upset and sad right now that I may write things that I may come to regret.

What is wrong with these people? I have always believed that people are inherently good and that is especially true when it comes to children, now I am thinking that this clearly does not apply to the very people that are charged with caring for Kyrgyzstan's most volunerable population, the precious orphans.

I just don't know what to do....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beautiful Pearls of Wisdom



Before I do some more sharing, I want to share the new pictures of Addison. Isn't she just adorable. Now if I could just see more smiles. Apparently she can do it but just not for the camera. I have to admit that she is looking OK. I have resigned myself with the fact that she is not going to look great (i.e. fat and happy) until we have her home so I will be content with her holding her own. We were supposed to have updated measurements today but apparently the electricity shortage is hampering the situation. Saule couldn't find them with candle light so she could not read them off to our coordinator. Maybe tomorrow.


I thought that I would add a few more pearls that other PAPs shared with me in response to my last post. ( Thanks ladies! )


*You see, God formed Addison; He loves her more than you ever can or will (even though that's hard to believe, I know!!). Because of that, there is no one better equipped to take care of her every need than He is. But I know that God has chosen you to be her mother and that He is working out the details in His time and His way and in some way, for His glory. We are told that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. It is SO HARD. I know; I've been there. But, you are most definitely on the right path. God is the author of peace; Satan is the author of lies, confusion and, sadly, running in circles. When you let go and trust, I know you will see miracles.
* God took the Israelites on the 'long way' to the promise land when he could have taken a more direct path. Why would God ever take us on the long way, especially when it takes us into a spiritual and physical desert? Why would a loving God do that? Doesn't He want what is best for us? Doesn't He want us to be happy and to not suffer? After coming up with possible answers, like that God was trying to build character or show them He was true to His promises - the surgeon told us that we have to consider that sometimes it isn't just about our journey. In that particular passage, God took the Israelites on a long way to spare another ethnic group that lived along the route. Had the Israelites traveled that way there would have surely been bloodshed and turmoil in order for them to pass. GOd has the big picture in mind. Hard for us to understand but true.
*God created the whole world in 6 days...what did I do last week??? He is big enough to handle the court system in Kyrgyzstan and big enough to care for our babies and this situation.


Again, this post will be a great reminder to me to keep my faith and maybe it will help others too. I will tell you that I have been breathing easier and sleeping better.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

5 months old today and I am on a new path

Well our precious baby girl is 5 months old today. We are anxiously awaiting the pictures that our coordinator took over the weekend. Saule thinks that she is looking good which is so nice to hear.

We left Kyrgyzstan 2 months ago today and during the wait I have had the opportunity to do a lot of soul searching and I think that thanks to a colleague, I think I have made a very important turning point. I am going to include an email that I sent to 3of my dearest friends on last Sunday night. The goal is not to bore people but so that I can look back, read the post and have it serve as a reminder of the new path that I am going to try to take.

As I sit here in front of my candles, fragrance and all, I thought I would tell you about the amazing conversation that I had at work on Friday. It is a little religions which is something that we haven't emailed a lot about but I think that it is pertinent to all of us. One of our pediatric surgeons adopted a toddler from Russia in the spring of 2007 and she checks in with me from time to time to see how things are going with our adoption. She has been hard to get to know and not that open with her personal life or emotions but I guess that Friday was an exception. I had just finished updating her on Addison's health and the general state of affairs when she reminded me of some of the obstacles they had faced when waiting to bring their little boy home. Same sort of thing, corrupt judges, problems with the MOE, ect and all of which lead to a 4 month delay in bringing home her child. Well, she had done exactly what I have been doing. She was obsessed with being proactive and did her best to find ways to help get him home sooner and just like all of us, had absolutely no luck. After she told me about all of that that she asked me about how religious I am. I told her that I have always believed in God and that He has a special place in my life, especially in terms of this adoption. Not to mentioned that I have never prayed so much in my life as I have the last several months. So then she told me this story. I am going to paraphrase it but you will get the point and I am probably going to not do it justice but here goes.

The Jews had been stranded in Egypt for centuries and they were so excited when God sent them Moses to show them to the "promised land". However, once they got to across the red sea they realized that they had not been led to the promised land but instead into a desert. Needless to say, they were very angry and sad. GOd left them there for FORTY years! They tried everything that they could think of in order to leave but had absolutely no luck. It was not until they put their complete trust in God and had true faith in him that He finally led them out of the desert. It was not until they totally trusted in him and believed in him that they were rewarded.

She said that once she stopped running in circles, and truly put her faith in God to bring her little guy home did things start to happen. It was only then that she was at peace and was able to deal with all of the stress of the situation. We were both in tears at the end of the story and I told her that I understood the similarities but that I have felt like I needed to do everything in my power to help Addison. Once I even tried backing away and then felt guilt that I was not doing enough to try to help her so back I went to running in circles. I just can't seem to win and yet either way, it is consuming a ton of my emotional energy. She just smiled and told me to have faith and that God will take care of her.

I have thought about this a ton this weekend and I think that there is so much to be said about this. I do believe that God has his watchful eye on our precious babies and undoubtedly has a plan for all of us but Danielle (the surgeon) is right in that we need to have more faith in His wisdom. Not to mention that in spite of our hours and hours of communicating, emailing, and problem solving, we have not truly been able to influence the situation. We have been able to give each other the amazing strength and encouragement to continue on this path but have done nothing to change the situation for our babies. I know that is a hard statement to swallow but a true one. I still believe that knowledge is power and I will continue to learn as much as I can but I am also going to try to relinguish some of my worry and heart ache to God and try my best to have more faith in him.

So at the end of our conversation, I walked away, prayed and I collected myself for rounds. At the end of rounds, I had a call from our coordinator stating that the court was asking for some our documents and that she is hopeful that is a sign that things may start moving again. I think that God sent his message to me loud and clear- first, an eye opening conversation from an unlikely person and then a call with some signs of hope. Well, I listened and am going to do my best to step back and truly put my faith in the Lord.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Last week's pictures


Here are the newest pictures of Addison. They were taken a week ago but due to the significant electricity/energy shortages there was almost a week's delay in getting them emailed out to our coordinator here in the States. Her weight is up to 4998g which is right at 11 lbs. Not great for a baby who is going to be 5 months old in a few days but at least she is back on the growth curve and holding on at the 3%. Far from where I think that she should be. No other new news on the Tokmok courts.

The fall season is almost on us now and I am getting more and more anxious about the long winter that lay ahead. They are having a severe energy crisis in Kyrgyzstan and only anticipate it getting worse this winter. At this time are having scheduled rolling backouts that last 6-8 hours a day in an attempt to conserve some energy for the winter. Can you imagine how dark and cold it could be for our babies if we do not get them home before then??? I know that it is a rhetorical question but I just don't understand why those babies can not just be sent home sooner than later....

I can't wait for the day when I have some good news to post and I do believe that the day will come, I just hope that it is in the near future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Days of School


I thought that I would add a special post for Ansley and Alec tonight. Here are their back to school pics and boy, were they happy. Ansley is in second grade and could NOT wait to start. It is just so sad to see how fast time flies and somehow having a seconder grader does not sound like having a little kid anymore. By the way, she is missing her two top teeth and one on the bottom and so her smile is just adorable. I keep telling her that there is no other time in your life when missing teeth are cute :)

Alec started his pre-K program back at our chruch's preschool. He is going 5 mornings a week, much to my dismay, but loved his first week. Of course, I am going through with drawal and actually kept him home this morning so that I could spend time with him after my long 6 day stretch at work. Next year, I won't be allowed to do that so I am going to take advantage of these moments while I still can.



I just don't know what I would do without these two perfect kids. They light up my days and bring happiness like none other.

The candles are still lit!



September 2, 2008: Well, another week has gone by and still no news on any movement in Tokmok. The judge is still not willing to give us a court date so we wait..... This is just killing me! Addison is gaining weight and no longer has diarrhea per our coordinator which is good news. I am still waiting on pictures to confirm that she is looking good though. They have taken the photos but have been having difficulty sending them due to the fact that they are still having rolling backouts ( apparently 6 hours a day without electricity). I know that I will feel better once I see new pictures.

The candles were lit again last night but you will notice some additions. This was my "feel good" project for the week. The series of 5 candles represent four very special babies (LOLA) with the center aqua candle being for my four dear friends who have become my pillars of strength during this adoption. The separate green candle to the right is for all the other orphans in Kyrgyzstan, not only those that are waiting to come home, but those that are yet to be referred and even more importantly for those orphans that will never know another home. And of course, the large pink candle from the last post is still nearby because it seemed to have worked well last week.

Each color is symbolic and hopefully is imparting some power to the prayers. (Thanks Clare!!!)
Green: ( L + all the other precious orphans) symbolizes growth, safety and endurance.
Oranage: (O) symbolizes happiness, determination and encouragement.
Agua: (Moms) symbolizes emotional healing and protection
Blue: (L)symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, faith and healing.
Red: (A) symbolizes courage, strength and joy.

I have them sitting next to my computer where I spend a vast amount of my free time at night. I love them! The only problem is that each has a different fragnance so that at the end of the night I have a little bit of a headache. Oh, the things we will endure to bring home our babies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Successful candlelight vigil



On Sunday, August 24th, the Kyrgyzstan adoption group which is made up of hundreds of families from the US and abroad, held a candle light vigil to pray for the government of Kyrygzstan to start processing the pending adoptions. As many of you know there are at least 40 cases of children/babies that have been referred to families over the last 6 months but due to political manuevering their new families have not been allowed to bring them home. Well, the good news is that all our prayers and positive energy seemed to have worked!!!! YEAH!!!! On Monday several families paperwork , including my dear friend Kim's, were finally approved by the new adoption committee and signed off at the Minister of Education level. Those cases have been submitted to the courts and we will all keep praying that the next several steps will flow smoothly. It was so nice to have some good news.

As for Addison, thanks to another visiting family (Thanks Holly!) we were able to get another set of pictures and she seems to be holding her own. Her weight is up a little too, not as much as I would like, but up. I have not been able to get any more information about how she is feeding, if she is still having diarrhea, ect... but will keep pestering my agency to stay on top of it. No news for us on the Tokmok courts but I have renewed faith that Addison will be coming home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The sweetest smile

I will start this post by thanking everyone for all their support and prayers because they are working. We got updated pictures and a weight on Monday and Addison is looking better and has gained some weight. Thank goodness! I actually felt like I could breathe again. She is so cute especially with the smile! Ansley and I opened them together and she blurted out " mommy, she doesn't look sick any more". So at least for now our little one is holding her own. The shear fact that she can put the weight back on is very reassuring. I was getting very worried that in addition to my suspicion of neglect and FTT with malnutrition that there may be a new or yet to be disclosed medical diagnosis. I spent the weekend beside myself because I had not pushed harder to have her admitted last week.

Unfortunately, she is still at the orphanage in Tokmok and that is going to continue to be a huge point of concern for me. She is better but I think that the last several weeks have shown us how tenuous her health can be and I have little faith in the care she is receiving. They have now changed their story and apparently she had ( or has ???) diarrhea and that is why she lost weight. Odd because they denied that she had been ill or had diarrhea for the last 10 days. The story from there becomes much more muddy and to be frankly honest, absolutely infuriating. Unfortunately, I can not share all the details on this blog but I can tell you that we just can't get her out of there soon enough. The plan for now is close supervision with weekly updates and weight checks.

Our coordinator continues to be proactive and is working on getting Addison's paperwork through the court in Tokmok but so far there has not been any solid forward progress. Please keep our precious baby girl and the rest of the babies there in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Plans change

Addison is still in the orphanage in Tokmok but after some negotiations, she will be admitted to the children's hospital on Monday. After her stay there then we will have to figure out what other options she may have so that she does not have to go back to Tokmok. I am relieved that she is going to be in the hospital and that she will have a more thorough medical evaluation, I just wish that she was already there. Hopefully, she is holding her own and that we are not surprised by some new medical issue next week. Please keep her in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Malnutrition

Just a quick update on Addison. Saule was able to take another pediatrician to evaluate Addison and her assessment was that she has significant malnutrition ( and I would add neglect) but no other new medical concerns. I am relieved to hear that there are no new concerns, although I am not that trusing of their medical opinions. HOwever, I am just grateful that everyone is acknowledging that our precious baby is not thriving in her current environment. As of yesterday, our coordinators here in the US and there in Kyrg were working on going above and beyond to help Addison. Hopefully, I will have more to share later once I have an update. At least I was able to sleep last night.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

4 months old and it is a sad day.

Well, our baby girl is 4 months old today and instead of posting a picture of a chubby, happy baby we are sad to say that Addison is not doing well. We got updated measurements and pictures and she is clearly not thriving. You will see in the pictures that she doesn't look well and her growth curve is just abismal. She has lost about 10% of her body weight and when you only weight 10 lbs, that is huge, especially since she should have gained about a 1 -1 1/2 lbs. After many emails with our coordinators (Kate in CA and Saule in Kyrg) and my dear friend Lisa, who was in Bishkek at the time (what a godsend), I know that she is only taking a fraction of her feeds and that she has not been sick lately. The orphanage staff thinks that her weight loss is due to her being hot but I think that is $#@!. When babies are hot they are THIRSTY and they drink. I am concerned that she may be getting either dilute formula or too much water but I have not been able to confirm that yet. I am also fearful that she may withdrawing due to lack of stimulation and bonding or a yet to be diagnosed new medical problem both of which are BAD. Of course, I am scared to death about what is really going on with her and clearly I am too far away to be of any true help and I don't trust the medical environment there. On a good note, both our coordinator here and Saule ( in Kyrg ) are worried too. Saule is going to be taking an outside pediatrician to see her and they are going to consider hospitalization which is exactly what she needs. Of course, what she really needs is to be home with us! NOw we just wait for an update.
Look at the previous pictures- where did the cheeks go? What were the fat that used to be on her fingers?

And to think this is the woman that we hired to be her personal care giver. Can you tell I am angry!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Post-trip #1 Craziness


Well, we have been home from our trip to meet Addison for about 10 days and it seems like forever since we saw her and let me tell you, this has been an experience like none other. ( opps, kids realized that I had snuck upstairs so I will have to finish this post later.)

Well, 3 days later and I am finally able to finish this post. I am at a conference and enjoying an evening of quiet in my hotel room. Life has been busy but I guess that I should stop complaining. Both Ansley and Alec had great birthdays and I am sad to say that they are now both a year older. They are like fine wine and each year they just get better and better! They are absolutely priceless!

As for the Krygyzstan update, Addison is now 3 1/2 months old and when were so fortunate and excited to get pictures from two different families this week. They were seeing their babies in Tokmok and were able to sneak pictures for us. Thanks Betsy and April!!! Betsy was even able to let us know that Kuba, our driver and translator, was able to get a smile out of her. It was apparently hard work but she can do it! Now if we could just get someone to capture that one film for us but don't hold your breath.

As for other progress on the adoption process and trip #2 information. On Tuesday, the 22nd, the new woman appointed by the Minister of Education to sign off on all adoptions at the national level started her job which is good news. Now we will wait with anticipation to see how efficient she is at her job and what, if any additional suprise delays may be waiting for us. There are several rumors out there but we are waiting for our agency to confirm or deny them.... Keep the prayers coming!

This whole process is very difficult to say the least. At any given moment I find myself alternating between thinking about that precious baby girl over in Krygyzstan as either Altynai, the tiny little orphan, or Addison, the baby that is going to be our daughter that I will love with my whole heart. Some days I feel very cautious and worried and other days excited and in awe of her. I had hoped that once we left Krygyzstan that I would come home and Ansley and I would get busy getting the nursery ready along with all the other fun preparations that go along with bringing home a new baby but instead I am more worried than ever. I guess that this is just my mind's way of protecting me. I truly believe that she will come home I am just a afraid to get my hopes up that it will be anytime soon.

I am including the new pictures of Addison and one of the some of the local crafts/toys that we bought for her.


Addison definitely prefers to look to the right but I promise you that she can move those big eyes in all directions. My theory is that by looking away it is her way to escape. She is just not used to that much interaction. We have to get her home so we can fix that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Last Day for Trip #1


I guess, I can sum it up by saying that I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and I am leaving with such mixed feelings.

I was alone for our last visit today due to Craig's brillant plan ( see the post from July 3) gone bad. Luckily, I have the lay of the land down and a wonderful driver. I would have still loved a shoulder to cry on today. Addison was as cute as ever! She is definitely alert and was very interested in me but still no smiles although I will give her credit for trying. It was a repeat of most days in that I got to feed her, play with her, stroll outside ( which I am sure is a rare experience) and put her to sleep. I left her with the stuffed bunny that Ansley and Alec did for her, a small photo album of our family and a few new pacifiers since she really loves them. Of course, those items were probably more for my benefit but nice to leave none the less. Let me tell you, if I could have put her in bag and ran like the wind I would have been unstoppable!

So what happens now, you ask??? Well, we leave for an undetermined amount of time and wait for the rest of the process to play out before we can come back and bring her home. The process is such that after you receive your referral you come to meet the child on Trip #1. During the interval time between trip 1 and 2, the process AS OF TODAY is that the petition to adopt the child goes before a local committee (ours is done) then goes to the capital of Bishkek to be signed off by an official at the Minister of Education ( who hasn't started yet) after that it apparently returns to the local region for court. After court occurs there is a 30 day wait until the last of the documents can be processed (ie. passport, new birth certificate, ect...) which takes about 10 day. At the end of the 10 days, you get to finally get to return. Without going into the gory details, we are dealing a new, unorganized, and likely corrupt government so timelines mean nothing so I am not going to put any down. As you can see, there are MANY potential pitfalls ahead of us. The only good thing is that both our agency and more importantly our in country coordinator, Saule, are emphatic that all of these adoptions will be finalized and the babies will come home but in an unknown period of time. This a complete change from when we started this process and it had been consistently 4-8 weeks between trips. As most of you know, I am incredibly type A and this situation and my lack of control is going to kill me.

I did get to go to another orphanage today and what a treat. They seem to really have things figured out and boy did those babies look good. Well nourished, strong and happpy! Although I was incredibly pleased for those babies, it made me realize what Addison and the others are missing out on. In Addison's room, there are 10 babies and of the 8 of them that are neurologically intact, I only saw one baby smile in the entire 4 days. In their defense, our visits were during nap times and we were only there 2 hours a day so I could have been missing out on the smile time. It could also be that I am being incredibly neurotic and making a big deal out of nothing but I saw 11 babies in 3 orphanages and I don't think that I am. Although the ladies there were very hard working and kind, I just did not see much stimulation or true interactions with the babies. I was able to have a long talk with our coordinator today and explained ( with tears-I just couldn't help it) how worried I was. She has promised that she will be checking in daily of course, with Tokmok being a long drive from Bishkek, I am afraid that will taper off.

So in the end, I will have many happy pictures of our precious daughter to be and will pray that we will have her home soon! To leave on a happy note, I will let you in on some of Addison's day to day life.
* She has funny hair on the top of her head where some of it goes to the left and some the right and in the end it forms a silly little peak. Actually, I guess Alec was right when he said that her hair looked like a shark fin.
* She loves to look to the right, but only with her eyes not by turning her head, but luckily doesn't have a funny looking head and my peds friends will know what I mean. Don't worry she can look in all directions!
* She has a lower pitched cry and it is really more of a fuss than a cry or maybe I just didn't make her that mad.
* She loves to play with her fingers and doesn't like to have her arms stretched above her head like in the "so big" game.
* She likes to be held in a cradle position and definitely not at the shoulder.
* She and all her friends start crying for food about 15 minutes before it is due ( they all get 150 cc every 3 hours) but as soon as the workers start preparing it they all quiet down and watch. Very interesting.
* The baby boy that sleeps in the crib next to her's is the happy guy so I am hoping that he will rub off on her.

That's all for now. I have to be up at 0300 for my journey from Bishkek to Istanbul to Frankfurt to Washington, D.C. to Orlando to drive home to Jacksonville ( I promise to sleep if Craig hasn't made it back yet). Yes, another result of Craig's plan gone bad. Poor guy feels horrible. Note to self, if it is too good to be true then it probably is and buddy passes and jump seat are way hard to use once you leave the country. The best part of it all is that soon I will be back home with Ansley and Alec who I have missed terribly!!!! Ten days is just too long to be gone. Thank goodness for two great kids and a wonderful Grandma who has been taking care of them for us!

Take care!
Not an uncommon site on the local roads.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 3 at Tokmok

Hi everyone.

Well, today was a better day for Addison. She was sleeping when we got there but woke up happy and was so peaceful. In fact, she seemed much more comfortable with us today. She spent a lot of time making great eye contact and I almost got a smile from her. She was even willing to spend a good deal of the time without a pacifier. I felt so much better today and can't wait to see her again tomorrow.

I think I have figured out the mystery medication too. It is a Russian drug called paracetum which from what I can tell is IV CAFFIENE!!!! They think that it is a beneficial brain stimulant for these babies. No wonder she was totally out of sorts yesterday. She was wired! Poor little baby. It certainly will not hurt her but gosh.....

I also had the experience of a lifetime today. I have had the pleasure to examine and evaluate 6 babies/toddlers for our adoption agency. I have been able to get complete exams, pictures and even a few videos for the families that will be the prospective parents for these children. In the process, I got to go to another orphanage and interact with the most amazing group of toddlers and a few older infants. Talk about resilient and absolutely priceless! I will promise to blog more about that later. The best part has been that I have been able to send out pictures to 6 families so far. I felt like Santa Claus! I can only imagine how important those pictures are when you are so very far away from your child and unfortunately, I will be in that same boat in about 24 hours. I know that parents following us will return the favor and that will be wonderful.

Lastly, we were able to take a beautiful drive into the mountains with our translator and driver, Kuba, today. They are truly beautiful.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 2 with Addison

Hello everyone and thanks to everyone's encouraging and excited emails and comments. It is so nice to be able to stay in touch even though we are so far away.

First, for the baby. Again, we got to spend two hours with her and when we arrived she was all dolled up again, they let me feed her and gave us a lot of space. Addison was a little out of sorts today and seemed to not want to be held as much so overall today was a mixed experience. Of course, it was 90 degrees out and she was dressed head to toe in two layers. I was steamy hot today holding her and I think that she was too. Of course,growing up in an orphanage does not neccessary allow an infant to be cuddly. They have to learn how to soothe themselves, as sad as that is. She has not smiled for us and we asked the ophanage staff about it and they said that she does but "seldom". Again, I know that this environment is FAR for perfect but it makes me so sad to think about it. I just have to keep believing that we will be able to tackle any attachment and developmental issues once she is home. I would just love to see at least one smile before we leave. I was able to get a complete, naked exam on her today and a new set of measurements and luckily that all looks good. I was also able to meet with the orphanage doctor and learned a little more about Addison but of course, not as much as I would have liked. I noticed today that she had a needle stick on her hand that was not there yesterday. I also noticed some IV medicine in the baby room. I of course, asked about it and apparently she is getting a 10 day course of some sort of medication for her "encephalopathy". Encephalopathy is a very common diagnosis in Central Asia because their belief is that all babies start out with brain problems because of their inherent delays. Luckily, Addison does not meet our US definition of encephalopathy. The mystery medicine was ordered by a neurologist and it is standard for all babies to get a one time course of this. I specifically asked if she was getting it because they were worried about her and the orphanage MD said " no, she is doing well." The medicine somehow increases blood flow to the brain. I have not the foggiest idea what that could be. I was able to confirm that they use a new needle each time which was good but I hate not knowing more about it. I have sent out an email to an Internation Adoption pediatrician tonight and I am hoping to learn more. Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do to stop it since she is not officially ours.

The reality of orphanage life really hit home today. Yesterday, we were just so excited to meet Addison and today we had to acknowledge that she is not where she needs to be. The women there are clearly doing the best that they can with the little resources that are available to them. Today, there was no fresh running water and they had to have some delivered. The workers came out of the buildings in droves with buckets and to and from they went. I also got to interact with more of the babies and some are just doing a lot better than others. It is just so hard to wrap your head around how tough life can be for these little ones and yet again, how lucky we are to live in the land of plenty. I just hope and pray that we can have our little one home sooner than later. I pray the same thing for all the other precious little ones. It was a bad day to be a pediatrician.

As for the Kyrgyzstan experience, it is incredibly unique. You can tell at one point in time that they were doing well economically but tough times have certainly hit and they are struggling. We took an hour long power walk this morning and only found one intact sidewalk and that was infront of the White House. Many buildings are disserted and falling down or started but never completed. People are doing the best they can but sweeping dirt off of a dirt sidewalk is not going to fix anything and we actually saw that several times bright and early this morning. We did have some wonderful local cuisine tonight and we did surprisely good ordering blind. We were also able to visit a historical landmark outside of Tokmok and hope to get a trip to the mountains tomorrow. What an experience!

Take care everyone and send out a prayer for all of these priceless children!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

First Video of Addison

Here is the first of many videos of Addison! Ansley and Alec, you are going to just love her!!!
video

Addison Altynai Bilyeu



What a great day!!!! We got to meet, hold, feed and kiss our precious, tiny baby girl. I am still in disbelief at how wonderful she is and that if everything goes as planned that she will be our daughter forever! Her name is going to be Addison Altynai Bilyeu and we think it fits her well. They call her by her given name, Altynai - which means "gold like". As for her first name, we want everyone to know that we had never planned on all the kids names starting with "A". It just happened that way. Craig also wants me to let you know that we are not lazy and didn't just stop at "A" in the baby name book. It has been one of my favorite names for a while and Craig loved it too so that settled it. We tried for a while to find a non-A name but none felt right so Addison it is.

When we got to the orphanage Addison was in the front room of the baby house. She was wide awake and they had her all dolled up for us. She smelled like baby shampoo and was in an adorable little outfit. She stayed awake for the entire two hour visit, except about 5 minutes, and boy is she alert and aware of her environment. She loves her pacifier and feeds like a champ! After her bottle, she was content without the paci and did some great cooing with us. Oh my goodness, she is sweet. She has thin brown hair, semi-almond shaped eyes that look like they are going to be brown, a tiny little mouth, and long fingers and toes. She was dressed from head to toe so I don't know about her birthday suit but from what I can tell so far she looks very healthy and vigorous. I was able to get a good hip exam and it is normal so we can cross the hip concerns off the list. I should be able to get a complete exam on her before I go but I certainly was not going to push that today although I don't think that the staff would have cared. I am not worried though she looks great! Yeah!!!!

The orphanage itself was as I expected thanks to having followed other parents blogs on their trips to Tokmok. I was very pleased with the orphanage staff too. They seems very attentive to the babies and she responded well to their voices. The two main rooms that she is in are very bright and there are lots of toys. There are 2 separate baby rooms that seem to have about 10 babies a piece. One sleeping room with the cribs and one with the play area. Very interesting experience to say the least. Most of the babies look very healthy although there are several that are clearly not thriving and two with hydrocephalus that are in dire need of a neurosurgeon. It sure made me grateful for the medical care that we provide in the States. Oh, if you could just take all of them home.

Well, that is enough for now. We are going to venture out for dinner and a stroll in Kyrgyzstan! Wow, that is not something that you say everyday.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Istanbul

Well, we made to Istanbul late this afternoon and just got back from an evening stroll and an amazing Turkish dinner. We had a HORRIBLE 2 days at JKF and I am just so happy to be out of there and most importantly here! My husband's brilliant flight plan was squashed by the July 4th holiday and so we had to do some re-routing and buy some tickets from Amsterdam to Istanbul! Needless to say, I was an unhappy wife yesterday. Of course, he felt absolutely horrible. Regardless, we are here now and we had already purchased tickets from Istanbul to and from Bishkek. I have tickets all the way home to Jax so I will no longer have flight stresses to think about. He is still going to jump seat home but I am not going to have any part of that anymore. As for tomorrow, we plan to do a half day tour of Istanbul's main landmarks in the a.m. and then leave for Bishkek tomorrow evening. I can't believe that we are really this close to meeting the baby! We got the video phone to work great with the kids tonight which was wonderful. What amazing technology!

Here are just few pictures of our evening.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

7 hours and counting

Well, we will leave our house at 4 AM tomorrow morning - just 7 hours away! The bags are packed, Grandma Bilyeu has gotten the brief on keeping the kids and the house running while we are away. Between Grandma and Nanny Jenny they are in good hands. Ansley and Alec were both out of sorts today and I have to admit that I have been too. Alec proposed to tonight that Grandma go instead. Boy they are priceless. It is a long time to be away!

Well, here is the another picture of the baby and we should have lots more to share starting the 6th!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Three days and counting

Well, our travel itinerary is set and we have 3 days to complete the list of things to do before we are off on our adventure. We basically just need to pack and get a few last minute items plus get the house and kids ready for our absence. Ansley has announced that the next 3 days are "Bilyeu Family Days" and she has all sorts of plans for us, including planning and organizing both of their birthday parties. I just had to remind her that she has to promise to help me pack too. The kids are going to be in good hands with Janet (Grandma Bilyeu) and Nanny Jenny will be around to lend a hand when she needs a break. They will be busy because Ansley has swim team plus a soccer camp and Alec, well, Alec is just busy:). Boy, am I going to miss them!

Our travel to Bishkek is a little crazy because we are planning on using some Buddy passes (standby) to get to Istanbul, Turkey and then we have set tickets, round trip from Istanbul to Bishkek. Then we will fly standby home from Istanbul. By taking advantage of the buddy passes we will be able to fly to Kyrgyzstan for a fraction of the price. We will have to be away from home a few extra days but we are hoping that we will be spending that time touring Istanbul and not waiting it out at JFK in NYC. Craig has done his homework and the flights have been open everyday for the last several weeks and worse case senario we only really need one seat because Craig should be able to get the jump seat. Wish us luck!!

Bilyeu Trip #1 Kyrgyzstan Itinerary- July 2 – 10, 2008

Wednesday 2 July:
Depart Jacksonville, FL Jet Blue # 610 at 0610
Arrive JFK 2 July, 0830
Depart JFK 2 July, 1630 Delta # 72 to Istanbul, Turkey
Thursday 3 July:
Arrive Istanbul at 1000 (Thur)
Lodging in Istanbul - Hotel Ambassador
Saturday 5 July:
Depart Istanbul, Turkey at 1730, Turkish airlines # 1346
Sunday 6 July:
Arrive Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan at 0130. (Sunday morning)
Airport transportation provided by Silk Road Hotel
Lodging at Silk Road 6-10 July
Thursaday 10 July:
Depart Bishkek, Turkish airlines #1347 at 0555
Arrive Istanbul, Turkey at 0845
Depart Turkey 10 July at 1230 on Delta # 73
Arrive JFK on 10 July at 1650
Depart JFK on 10 July at 1910 on Delta
Arrive Jax at 2330 on 10 July

Friday, June 27, 2008

Baby's Bunny

Well, we are knee deep in preparations for our travel to see precious baby A ( name to be announced once we see her). We will not be able to bring her home this trip so we are planning on leaving a part of us there with her. I am attaching the picture of the kids with the bunny that we got her at Build-A-Bear this week. It was just priceless to watch them pick out the bunny, make wishes to put inside and dress her. Luckily, Ansley won on the fashion decision and she is not dressed in a Batman suit. The best part of the bunny is that she has a voice recorder in her hand that we all left a little message for her on. Hopefully she will be able to at least hear our voices when we are gone. We are also putting a little teether photo album together for her. One of our Russian nurses at the hospital helped translate the titles ( Mommy, Daddy, Sister, Grandma, ect....) I hope that the orphanage workers will read it to her from time to time. Of course, I realize that she is only 2.5 months and she will not care about either of these but it's making me feel better.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

She is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

Well, we have had a crazy last few weeks and at the end of all the ups and downs and emotions we have a referral for a beautiful baby girl! It is funny because the day after I finished her rocking chair and got this blog started we got the first call. Anyway, she is 9 weeks old and just adorable! She is currently in an orphanage in Tokmok, which is a city about 1 hour east of Bishkek ( capital of Kygyzstan.) She is healthy other than mild bilateral hip dysplasia. This is a condition that is common here in the US and is something that I am very comfortable with. In fact, I am going to be able to bring over a harness/brace for her and one of the other orphans when we travel to meet her in July. Boy, was I happy to be a pediatrician the day that we got all of her medical information :)

We are now knee deep in making travel arrangements to the other side of the world. Our coordinator in Kyrgyzstan, Saule, is planning on our first visit to the orphanage to be on July 6th. We will get to spend 4 days visiting her and then will return just in time for Alec's b-day on the 12th. What an adventure!

Enjoy the picture of the sleeping beauty.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Video trial

In hopes of travel in the near future, we are experimenting to see if we can successfully add videos. Wish me luck!!! Here is a recent video of Alec at the beach. It isn't that exciting but I am hoping that if it works we will be able to share videos while we are in Kyrgyzstan PS: We have a referral and hopefully we will have details to share soon!
video

Monday, June 9, 2008

Current day thoughts and the Rocking Chair

To those of you that actually read the first post, thanks and I promise to keep future posts to a tolerable length. Ansley and I ( OK, mainly me) have been planning out the baby's nursery for some time and today we put everything together to see how it would all look. " Everything" is really just some bedding, a painting and some little bugs that will hang from the walls/ceilings. It is a fairy garden theme so the bugs are really OK. Looking closely at it all was particularly important because we finished decorating the little rocking chair for the baby. The rocking chair is special because when I was pregnant with Ansley I redecorated my rocking chair from when I was little. She still uses it for her dolls and tea parties so when we started our adoption process I bought an unfinished chair for this baby. I have had it for several months but had been afraid to start work on it mainly because of fear that things were not going to happen. Then a few weeks ago I realized that my fears were taking away the potential joy of this process and because I needed something tangible and concrete to do ( other than obsess over emails, ect..) so I started painting it. It has been a family affair, minus Craig who hates this sort of thing. Alec, with all of his 3 year old flare, helped with the first coat of primer and to my displeasure his attention span was way longer than I hoped it would be. White paint everywhere ;). Then Ansley and I finished the final touches this last weekend. She helped me pick the location of the flowers, the colors and even did a little bit of the painting. We are both very happy with the final product and think that it will be the perfect gift for the new baby sister. The whole process was exactly what I needed too. Something happy, something exciting and something that kept the positive thoughts about this adoption flowing. I must admit that some days the whole process with all of it's unknowns is overwhelming. Unknown timing of the referral, travel, bringing her home and even more scary the unknown of her family history, her orphanage experience and how all of that will start forming her little personality and life to come. I have to remind myself to step back and remember why we are doing this and in moments of silence, I find encouragement and strength because I truly believe that this is what God wants us to do.
Maybe between blind faith and the rocking chair being completed, our referral will be close to follow. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
PS: I have no idea how to move the pictures to the bottom of the post so for now they will remain at the top.




International Adoption Journey

This blog is long overdue especially since we have been knee deep in our adoption plans for the last seven months but better late than never right? I thought I would start with a "brief " summary of our journey so far. For many of you this will be old information so please feel free skip this introduction post. If you are new to our story or crave more details then read on.

December 2007:

Well, this is not where the story really begins but we will start here anyway. We, my wonderful husband, Craig, and I, have always talked about adopting a child. In our younger years, I ran into some health problems that had us concerned that we may never be able to have any children of our own and it was at that time that we first started talking about international adoption (IA). Needless to say, we were blessed with two absolutely precious biological children, Ansley and Alec. Our thoughts of adopting did not end there though and as we started batting around the idea of having one more kiddo the idea came into the fore front again. To make a long story short, we decided to try the old fashioned way of adding to our family first but when that was just not meant to be we jumped head first into the world of international adoption. In my heart, I know this is exactly what we are meant to do. I never felt good about the prospect of being pregnant again and I think that we are meant to have the joy of parenting a child that needs us for other reasons. So in December 2007, I started learning everything that I could about all the different countries, agencies and options. On December 27th, we told our parents ( the grandparents to be) and children that we were planning on adopting a baby girl from Kyrgyzstan!!! Everyone was very excited to say the least.

Why Kyrgyzstan? Or more commonly, "Where?????". Kyrgyzstan is a small, former Russian republic that borders China and Kazakhstan. It has only been open to US adoptions since 2006 and was a great option because you have the ability to bring home infants, less than 12 months.

The Process.

It starts with finding an agency, completing a homestudy, compilings a ton of documents which will make up the dossier. After that you wait for a referral for a child. This typically comes with a picture, maybe a video, and medical information. After that you take the first trip to Kyrgyzstan to meet the child and formally accept or deny the referral. If everything is OK then you return home and wait for the court proceedings to occur in Kyrgyzstan. Once that portion is done then the child becomes yours and you return, after a undetermined amount of time for a second trip to pick the baby up and bring them home. The typical wait between the first and second trip varies but is a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Lots of waiting.

January 2008:

At the beginning of the month we finalized our decision to use Nightlight Christian Adoptions ( in California) as our placement agency. I had contacted the consulate in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to find out the list of agencies that were working in Kyrgyzstan. At that time, there were just 7 and after contacting all of them, we felt the best with Nightlight. They had been successful in bringing home babies from Kyrg, the waiting list was not that long and the length of the two trips that would be required seemed doable. We also started and FINISHED our homestudy with a local agency. At the time that we sent in our agency fees, we were #9 on the list for a baby girl but three of those families were open to either gender. Our coordinator thinks thought we should have a referral within the next 3 months. Our kids were getting excited too. Alec was thinking of all the ways that he was going to be able to protect her and Ansley was telling everyone, thinking of names and asking lots of questions about orphanages.

February 2008:

I worked hard and by Feb 12, just 6 weeks after starting our homestudy and picking an agency, I had the dossier complete, certified by the state and sent off to Nightlight. For those of you not in the IA community, the dossier is a packet composed of many official documents ( marriage licenses, medical, financial, homestudy, ect...) that are all notarized and then certified by the state ( of FL). Once arriving at Nightlight, the dossier was translated into Russian and sent to the Kyrgyzstan embassy in Washington D.C. to be authenticated. We also submitted our I-600A which was the form sent to the US Immigration office requesting that we be allowed to bring home a foreign born orphan. At the end of February we were #3 on the list with one family wanting a baby girl and one without a preference. Things were moving along great and Ansley and I even picked out a few baby blankets and some nursery items for the baby. It was starting to feel "real". We were going to be blessed with another child.

March 2008:

Our dossier made it to the embassy in D.C. and at the end of the month we received our I-171H. The I-171H is the form from the US govt that approved us to adopt a foreign orphan. We were #2 on the list and things were just going too smoothly. We had actually been #1 but one of the families in front of us lost a referral when the biological mother returned. We were OK with that and glad that the rights of the mother's were being protected.

Apring 2008:

At the beginning of the month, our dossier completed it's journey through the embassy and was authenticated and sent off to Kyrgyzstan. Things were just going too smoothly - our homestudy and dossier document gathering process was done in 6 weeks, our I-171H took only 5 weeks and our dossier made it through the embassy in just over 4 weeks. And people said that IA was difficult.....

Shortly after that another family in front of us lost their referral and we moved BACK again, now we were in the #3 spot. The court system in Bishkek had also completely stalled out and there were concerns because families had been waiting over 4 months between their first and second trips and still no sign of when they would be able to go and pick up their babies. This was a huge concern because our agency's main source of referrals is the baby house in Bishkek. By the way, Biskek is the capital of Bishkek. There were also some big changes at the Ministry of Education in Kyrgyzstan and with that came some "re-organization". Referrals stopped and the Embassy stopped processing dossiers. Thank goodness ours made it through in just the nick of time. We were starting to understand why they say that IA is not for the faint of heart. It seemed like the further we went along on this journey the more scary it was becoming.

Luckily, I have had the pleasure of forming relationships with several other women in the same position ( same agency and all of us in different stages of waiting) and it is through that network that I have been able to keep the hope alive and at the same time have an ongoing dose of realty, whether I like it or not. Thanks Posse'!!!!!

May 2008:

May started out tough for all of the above reasons. In fact, I was so discouraged that our hope for a baby from Kyrgyztan was about to end that I even started returning some of the nursery items and gathered all the receipts to see when things had to be returned by. Ansley was picking up on my fears and had even started telling her teachers that we were not going to be getting a new baby sister. However, as the month played out things in Kyrgyzstan started moving again and on May 27th we got an email from our Nightlight coordinator telling us that we were in the #1 position!!! The Bishkek court issue has still not righted itself but the referrals infront of us are not from that region and we have been told that ours will not likely be from there either. We have also been told that the court issues are isolated to Bishkek only and we should be able to move through the process "smoothly" if the baby comes from elsewhere. Notice that I am definitely worried about this rollercoaster ride that we are on but can't help but be excited about potential for another little person in our family.