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!!!

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


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!