Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Avenue

I do not talk about our church much on here but I am really blessed to be part of this group of people.... We don't get just get together on Sundays, sing songs, have a children's ministry and live separate lives.  Our goal is serve others just as Jesus served others while living like a family.  A few weeks ago, about seventy five college students (we are on a college campus) and families got together and packaged meals that were sent to Zambia...How many meals? 20,000.  Yep, that is a lot. 

Today in lieu of having a typical service, we piled into a parking lot on the University of Louisville's campus and built the walls of a house that will be given to family who lost their home in Madison, Indiana due to the tornadoes.  We did this in about three hours.  There were tons of people and now a family nearby will be blessed.

Children were encouraged to help and while Chernet did not understand why we were doing this, he had fun.  With Tedi, though, we thought it was important to learn about serving others.  I hope he got a little taste of it least we tried.   We are very blessed to be part of this church and wish more of our friends would try it out as well.

Our Team....
His Granpa Kevin would be proud

They did work at some point ;-)

Tedi, Chernet, Jovi

A view of the teams

Chernet, dressed for the occasion

Working together

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How Much Do You Matter? (Borrowed Blog Post)

I DID NOT WRITE THIS!!!  It is from Building the Blocks blog.  Amy Block, a mother of four biological kids and five adopted kidswho is now a missionary in Guatemala, should get all the credit It is so good and so true for many of us....

One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
~ Mother Teresa

Image with me for a minute…
Right now, today… you are small and alone.
You are hungry and lost.
You have no home, no parents, and seemingly no future.
You are scared, and weak, from days without food. You have no where to go, no where to be.
People walk by you but they don’t even look your way.
It’s like you are invisible, nothing.
You keep walking, your feet are bleeding and sore… and yet still you manage to cling to the small bit of hope, the little voice inside your head that says maybe, just maybe, one day things will get better.
Maybe one day -you will matter.
It is getting dark outside- inside your fear is growing.
Where will you go?
Your heart is beating faster, and your fear becomes over whelming, consuming your every thought.
Then you see it, a dirty, broken cardboard box and you bow your head thanking God for His provision.
For you have found it- shelter.
Safety, if only for one night.
You slip underneath it, hugging yourself, vowing once again not to cry- because by now you know tears are a waste of your strength.
Your eyes become heavy, despite the sweltering temperature.
As you begin to drift off to sleep you pray, hoping, dreaming, of a family of your own one day...
of a place where you will matter...
to someone.

Half away around the world is a family...

They are just sitting down to dinner together.

They are smiling and their laughter fills the room.

Dinner is served and they bow their heads and they pray- thanking God for their many blessings… their home, their job, the food that is set before them.

They lift their heads and go back to the laughter and the joy.

They talk of their upcoming vacation plans, the lunch date they shared with a friend today and the movie they plan to see this coming weekend.

More laughter, more excitement, more.

As the leftovers are scraped into the garbage can and the table is cleaned up, hot bubble bathes are taken by all.

Evening settles in, and the family slips under their down comforters preparing for a good nights sleep.

Before turning out the lights, the husband leans over to kiss his wife good-night. She shyly smiles at him and begins to tell him that she has been feeling that perhaps God is calling them to adopt.

The room grows quiet as they are both lost in their own thoughts… their minds are flooded with questions, concern, and then inevitably -fear.

How could they manage?
Another child?
Why, they already have two!
Where would they put the child?
Who would share a room?
How could they afford to adopt?
Would they be able to take that vacation?
What would people think?
What if the child, you know, caused ‘problems’?

As their eyelids become heavy, they begin to drift off to sleep... and they think to themselves ‘surely not’.

Surely God knows this is not convenient.

Surely God wants them to take that vacation they deserve...

Surely he knows how busy they are.

They have plans and they have dreams.

As sleep overcomes them, the temperature in their master bedroom is perfect… and their pillows are fluffed to perfection.

Life is good for them, just as they had planned...

Because after all, they matter...

Too much...

to themselves.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. "- 1 John 3:16-20

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Prayer Time (JT's Post)

Natalie traveled to Pittsburgh the past few days for a fellowship interview.  I spent the past few days in "single dad mode."  Single dad JT serves dinners of Pizza Rolls, Veggie Burgers and Baked Lays Chips.  I am proud that I limited myself to one beer per night (the thought of getting tanked did cross my mind) and no toys were harmed while Natalie was away (if you've ever heard my kids play harmonicas or Shake and Go Woody you know this is an accomplishment). 

During our bedtime ritual, the last thing the boys do (besides empty their bladders which apparently are the size of a spare tire) is to climb into my lap and pray.  Prayer time with two 5-year olds is hilarious.  Prayer time with two five-year olds who are recently adopted is high comedy.  Chernet thinks closing our eyes for prayer = peek-a-boo.  Tedi tries to say the same prayer every night.  He is very ritualistic.  I think he was born Presbyterian (sorry for that failed attempt at theological humor).

I generally pray for these things with my kids:

-their behavior at school
-help Mommy be a good doctor 
-help Daddy do a good job at work and church
-thank God for family and friends
-committing my children's lives to service to others and searching for relationship with God
-their relatives back in Ethiopia

The past few nights, the weight of that last request has weighed heavily on my mind.  We do not know much about Chernet's family.  We met Tedi's mom and several of his siblings.  I know the type of environment they live in and the struggles they face daily.  Dwelling on this situation is difficult.  Often, Tedi becomes emotional when I pray for his birth family.  I am unsure if he is crying for them or the thought of them.  Either way, it pains me to see my son grieve. 

During my personal study time, I find God has sent me a clear message recently over and over.  It is a mantra of which I need to remind myself constantly:

"Just because I have promised you something does not mean you will get it easily.  You will have to fight for it." 

God has promised us a family that will be restored and redeemed.  He never promised us that it would be easy.  Knowing this makes the "fight" a little easier.  I try to find rest in this fight (I know that sounds counter-intuitive) because it is a fight that God Himself has called our family to.  I am proud to fight for my two little men.  I am not a perfect dad.  Heck, most days my plan is to get out of the way long enough to let Natalie do her thing.

1 Peter 1:6
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Friday Five

I did these regularly when I started my blog....The top 5 things making the week....sometimes I would choose topics (top 5 adoption t-shirts, top 5 things for kids, top 5 books)

Now that fall TV is back, I will pick my top 5 shows this fall.  Keep in mind, most are DVR-ed and saved for later dates.  I hope it goes without saying but I will say it nonetheless, our kids DO NOT watch these with us.  Come one people.

1) NFL...
Really all football. We just love it.  Our perfect Sunday is coming home from church, putting on sweats, turning on whatever game is on and eating football food.  One way to spend a great fall day in the Henderson house. 

2) The Good Wife
We all loved Julianna Margulies as George Clooney's girlfriend, Carol, on ER.  She is now on The Good Wife, which we have been watching for a season or so now.  We thoroughly enjoy it and ends are Sunday night shortly after football ends.


3) Modern Family
Who does not love it?!?!  Why should I even explain?  If you have a family even slightly deviant of Leave it Beaver, you will appreciate this. 

4) Scandal
This is a new show for us..... it is a mix of politics and drama and sex set in Washington DC.  Kerry Washington, the lead actress, is one of most beautiful women I have seen.  Plus she does a great job in this show.  We are not hooked to this yet but it definitely makes the DVR.
5) This one is a toss up.  JT and I will argue this one out.  There is the Office, which used to top the list and still makes a weekly appearance but is falling off.  JT loves the MTV series REAL WORLD/ROAD RULES Challenge.... yes, he is the only 35 year old still watching it. Yep, I just outed him.  I will vote for Project Runway.  We both watch Law & Order: SVU.  I am trying to get JT to watch Glee but he is not there yet.... Can anyone convince him?

I think that is it.  What are some of your favorites?

Remember the Day....

Some days....this is how I feel.  Don't we all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

500th Post: Eyes that See

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my 500th blog post.  Crazy, huh?!?  I thought I would make it a good one, an important least I will try.

I had a friend message me a couple of weeks ago on Facebook and ask "Do you think adoption is the best way to help all orphans? Should that always be the end goal? Is adoption right for everybody"  I did not answer for a while because I really wanted to think about this. 

You know, adoption is not right for everyone.  For some families, it just is not the right thing.  Also, international adoption is not the cure for the orphan epidemic, and thus adoption is not the best way to help ALL orphans.  Many orphans will never see an orphanage but will live with family members or may find an orphanage but be ineligible for adoption.

So whether your family is called to adoption, supposed to adopt, frankly whatever.... we can all do something to help these kids.  Rather than worrying about chicken sandwiches and Chicago teacher salaries and stances on minor political issues and if UK or UL is better (who really gives a flip), we can actually make a difference in the life of a child (see the quote above).  Think about the time and energy and money we waste on things like these yet how easily we could help.

There are so many ways to pitch families adopting (many of you have done that for us), speak out for families, go on trips to build orphanages, work with agencies who help orphans.  I want to talk about an agency I feel strongly about.... An organization so so close to us for a multitude of reasons....

Eyes That See was started by our friends Matt and Nikki Ness.  They are such amazing people.  They have 5 children and their two oldest sons are the boys I want my sons to emulate.  (Ironically, they were the couple that started the orphanage where Tedi lived, KVI).  Now they run Eyest That See, which has three main projects:

Keziah Project: In their words: The purpose of the Keziah House is to rehabilitate women who are living in prostitution by providing a dormitory living space with intensive counseling and life skills. The goals of this program are to give each woman a safe environment and the tools to make this a successful transition, allowing her to leave her former life. Immediate medical needs will be met, as well as job and life skills being taught, with the goal of each woman being able to successfully live offsite at the end of the program.

10c Dabo: 10c Dabo is our feeding program that feeds over 100 students for the Eshet School. The feeding program began when we learned that some of these kids were completely unable to function at school because they had absolutely no food available. When we asked how much the food costs, we learned that it was just ten cents for a piece of dabo (bread). 

Child Sponsorship/Schools: They are now running two schools.  As part of this, they are now offering child sponsorship... for $25 each month the child will have a meal at school, a uniform, tuition, and basic medical needs.  This is a new program and there are around 200 kids.

My challenge to you....

I know a lot organizations offer child sponsorship.  But I am talking to those of you who may follow our blog, do not feel that you are ready to adopt or are called to adopt but always talk of wanting to do more, do something.  You can be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, brown, yellow, white, pink, conservative, democrat,.... you can be whoever but just want to make a difference for a kid... I encourage you think about it...$25 bucks is what we spend on coffee, on diet coke, on ONE MEAL eating out. 

JT and I talked about it and wanted to teach our boys giving and responsibility and sacrifice so that others may have.....we decided to sponsor two children, one for each of the boys.  They can send the children letters (if you count what they write letters) and pictures each month and learn about the kids.  When we travel back to Ethiopia, we can easily meet these kids.  We want to invest in these kids for these could very easily have been our boys. 

So what can you do.... if you are interested: click  If you have questions, me and I can set you up with Nikki.  Below is a picture of one of the boys we are sponsoring.  Let's see how many children we can get sponsored just through people I know.  Seriously, you will spend more than this on trivial things....think about this and change a life.

And his name is Chernt....appropriately so since our son's and Tedi's bio brother also have this name.


American Citizen & Ethiopian New Year

 Yesterday we received this important document!  I am not sure that you can see it, but it is Chernet's citizenship certificate.  Important Details: He is single :-)  What a random note.  And they gave him a few inches!  How cute is he!?!?!  We celebrated with our friends tonight over champagne. 

In other news, Ethiopian New Year is 9/11 (ironic, eh?).  We celebrated this past Saturday with our friends the Armstrongs, the Browns, and a new family to the adoption world, the Hoppertons.  Brittney and Donna cook the food....yes, the Ethiopian food.  My instructions: bring dessert and your Ethiopian serving dish.  I slept post night shift so the dessert did not happen and I FORGOT the dish.  I felt so guilty.  I really did.  JT finally looked at me and said,

"Natalie, people do not hang out with you for your cooking or domestic abilities.  Don't feel guilty."

I am not sure if this was a compliment but I think it is true.  Britt took several pics...again, not my gift (wonder what mine really is).... Enjoy!

Yes, rocking a Barbie car

The homemade Ethiopian food

My man sipping coffee....not dramatic at all

The whole gang

The coffee

So so happy to have injera

The kid loves sports

Sunday, September 9, 2012

HIV Chairman's Conference

 Last week I had been mentioning that I was preparing my HIV presentation for work...well it is called "Chairman's Conference." It is a thirty minute presentation that is given in front the entire department of pediatrics (well who ever shows up), including residents, rotating medical students, and faculty.  It is a big deal, or at least it feels like one.  You choose an interesting patient/case, present said case, and then do a teaching portion on the case. 

I wanted mine to be good.... I always do, but this is my last one.  I decided that not only did  I want it to be good, but I wanted to make a teach and educate, but also to bust up some myths.  I decided to present Chernet and his HIV as my case, despite the risk of everyone around me knowing and possibly judging and questioning (an issue I am working on)...

I was my usual, sarcastic self, though simultaneously professional.  I received good feedback so far.  I had several people ask me to share the presentation on here.... I am not technologically advanced enough to know how to upload the entire presentation...all 88 slides of it.  So, the Natalie version: take screen shots with my iPhone, email them to myself, upload to blog.  Here ya go....

The anonymous poll that opened the presentation.  Audience members had "iclickers" were you can enter an answer.  There was a mix between A and C, though I thought, even in medicine, it would be predominantly "C".

Between the previous slide and this one, I presented Chernet's medical numbers and labs... the case and then summarized it with the slide below....

For my "teaching" portion of the talk, I wanted a different to keep everyone interested and out of their phones without being boring and harping on medicine but rather giving the social and everyday side of HIV.  Erin, my friend/mentor/boss (though I prefer the first and second titles), came through for me... she recommended presenting it from both the parent perspective and the pediatrician perspective, each of which I am qualified to speak about.  She suggested doing it with the top 5 questions that parents would have and the same for pediatricians.  Though I would not say it to her face, she was right.  I believe this aspect of the presentation is what made it most successful and overall, very relateable.  Below are the questions from parents. 

Per JT's request, I led this section with "Unless your play dates involve, sexual contact, needle sharing or vaginal deliveries, your kids shouldn't get HIV" and received quite a few laughs.  I spent time on each area, but mostly regarding perinatal (mother-child transmission).  Then I proceeded with how you DO NOT get HIV...I included pictures of my boys sweating together, swimming together, sharing straws, and with their friends.  The pictures were a hit as well.

These were the questions I used to present issues for pediatricians.  This was geared toward the private pediatrician but I addressed inpatient and outpatient medicine as well as transitioning children to adulthood. 
Changing the stigma...I thought this was important to know and hear.  It was shocking to many and I think eye opening to some!
And, of course, I had to thank the important people.  Dr. Marshall is one of Chernet's infectious disease doctors and the ID attending who reviewed the talk.  Erin Owen, as I mentioned earlier, helped with structure and overall presentation and reviewed it more times than she had time to...Christa (and Danielle) are the chief residents... Erica and Heather are two my very best friends and both reviewed the presentation and kept me from melting down the day of... Most importantly, all of these people love my boys.  Yes, even the people with "DR" before their names.  An infectious disease doc, a critical care attending and residents alike love them..I thank them more for that than helping with a presentation...
Like I said, overall I feel that it went well.  If you have more questions or would like to see the full presentation, feel free to email me!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First World Fails....and Fantastics

Jen Hatmaker writes great blogs that I enjoy reading.  The previous two blogs were heavy topics, but were followed this week by a post entitled Not a Fan.... where she highlights several First World things of which she is "not a fan"....hilarious!  (First World: things here in America and the Western world that seem important but in the big picture...AKA: everywhere else....don't matter). 

I did not want to steal her title or completely her idea but I thought I could throw together my own version.  I am a bit witty.  Oh wait, that is cynicism and sarcasm.  I think it is funny.  So here you go, the me version....4 things of which will deem FAILS and 4 which I will call FANTASTIC.  (knowing that these are still "first world" and matter nothing to my existence but sometimes make existing easier...I know this because I have been elsewhere...No judging here)  There is no Mother Teresa, who I adore, here but more like

So here you go......

1) YouTube.... Fantastic
Yes, I will concede that there are weirdos out there that post things.  Yet on YouTube, you can watch music videos, post videos for family to watch, see movie trailers and clips, view part of TV shows and of course watch other peoples' ridiculousness.  Yes, YouTube, you are indeed a First World positive.

2)  Diet Coke.... Fantastic
I would like to state that I am not overtly addicted to caffeine (JT may disagree).  However, I thoroughly enjoy the carbonation.  I find nothing better than a carbonated, caffeinated, cold diet coke.  This is a win at any time of the day.  Thank you, Coca Cola.  I appreciate you.

3)  iPhone apps.... Fantastic
My favorites that definitely make my life better..... Pandora, Lexicomp (pharmacy), Sleepmaker (I am like Pavlov's dog when I turn this on), Amharic translator (yeah, I think I just tell myself this), Weather Channel, DisneyStore, DisneyJunior FREE, RedBox, Instagram.... Love these and I am sure I could more that I would love.  These do make our First World lives easier. I appreciate them.

4) Cards.... Fantastic
I had to toss this one in here.  I love them, all brands, especially the unique boutique-y ones....especially the ones with quotes....and ones that flirt with the line of being overly inappropriate.  I love getting them.  Even more, I love getting them.  They say "I was thinking about...when I bought it, when I wrote in it...and when I gave it to you..."  Much more than an email, a text.... I love these.  Enough said.

(oh, don't go and get offended.  these are fun)
1) Stick people decals on the backs of cars..... FAIL
I am sorry if you have them.  Well, no I am not.  They just really annoying me.  We even designed ones on a night shift, jokingly, for the variety of family combinations we see at the hospital.  They don't see these in stores.  And where do you buy these?  I don't just run into them in everyday shopping outings at Kroger, Wal-Mart, or Target.  It must take work to find them.  And yet, they are everywhere.  I mean, seriously? 
2) TLC's shows about the worst part of America.... FAIL
Toddlers and Tiara, Honey Boo Boo, Hoarders, Sister Wives, I Didn't Know I was Pregnant, etc....
Train wrecks that once you start watching you feeling coerced into continuing.  You become a little less intelligent with each passing scene and you wonder if these people are actually real...We have failed ourselves yet we can not turn away

3)  Handling Raw Chicken.....  FAIL
I can sew people and cut them open and put needles in them and tubes and lines...put having to handle raw chicken makes me a bit nauseous.  I do it...I mean I make pretty good panko fried chicken so I do it. I HATE IT.... I will even pay extra $ for the trimmed chicken. Then, if you freeze it, those white linings on the bottom of the paper are stuck to it.  You are hosed trying to get that off.  JT enjoys watching this....or rather watching me be frustrated with it.  Yes, maybe it is not the chicken that fails but rather Natalie.

4)  Wire Hangers..... FAIL
I see all these people posting on facebook asking for wire hangers for kiddie consignment sales.  Nothing will make lose my religion quicker than when several wire hanger get stuck together.  And those damn beloved dry cleaner continue to perpetuate this problem.  Oh man, I can not stand these.  Then, try stepping on one at a weird angle.  Yep, these are epic fails in my humble opinion. 

*I left out car pool line numbered decals... I can not even get started on this.
Okay, I realize I am not nearly as funny as Jen Hatmaker but these are definitely a change in pace and thought.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blue Smile & Jesus

As the title implies, this will be a random post, and quick one at that.  Today was a blue smile day....I opened Chernet's backpack today searching for the behavior color of the day.  It is kind of like America's terror alert system. Blue is better than yellow, orange or red....We have been living in the Lincoln Performing Arts School verson of the NO FLY ZONE...yellow was our previous goal... SOOO blue is beautiful in this house.  Before I could even get to the folder, he was saying
"Sa-my-ell" in a thick Ethiopian accent.  I quickly realized he was trying to say "smile." Well as you can see below, there was a blue smile in Chernet's behavior calendar.  You can see the orange creeping in from yesterday.  While we have so many little things to work on, we CELEBRATE the little blue smiley face.  (check out my initials above with accompanied smile of own.)  I may have said that ice cream will be in order if there are two blue days in a row....wonder if he understood that English....?  He is my son so I think so.
Here is where Jesus comes to play.... My friend and her daughters were over today after school...the best kind of visit...spontaneous, impromptu.  The kids played and we ate dinner and such.  Her younger daughter, Evie, found the boys sparse craft stuff (you know how I feel about crafting) which consisted of crayons and construction paper.  A few minutes later, this was posted to our fridge. 
If you can't see it, there is a boy and a girl labeled Tedy and Evie.  I am not sure if they are holding hands but they are clearly friends.  And really isn't that what Jesus was all about.  Just loving each other....regardless of anything else.  There was no black, white, rich, poor, healthy, sick, Protestant, Catholic, Republican, Democrat... he really just loved people.  I know some of you will argue that it is more complicated than that.... Maybe it is, but I think if we really sought to love each other without pretense and essentially like children do, our world, our jobs, our homes, our relationships in general would look a lot different.
Okay, enough of my two cents tonight.  Off to give a mock presentation to my sleeping men, yes they are all sleeping now.  I won't apologize for talking about it.  It will be over tomorrow and you will not have to hear about it any longer.  Don't worry.  I will find something else to ramble about.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Says so much...

This picture, taken on Saturday, says so much about the boys' personalities. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Brownies and Pictures

Because today was not a great day, I am reminding myself of the funny stuff that has happened, like these pictures taken yesterday.  Because it was not a great week, I took other people brownies  while they worked on a holiday.  Don't get me wrong.  I occasionally loathe in self pity (though I TRY not to) but I figure it is easier to make other people making them brownies and drinking diet coke together.  Or watching Chernet pop and lock like Chris Brown or Usher.  The little things, the special people, the ones make the little struggles a bit more bearable.  So I am thankful, even when some days are frustrating, for the people who make life better, lovelier, and at least will watch funny YouTube videos with you.  For husbands who do laundry and pre-pack lunches and bake muffins for the next day's breakfast.  And for kids, who despite the vast amount of time spent in time out, give raspberry kisses and dance like Usher and call me mommy.  This makes it worth it... And who really does not like brownies?!?!?!  Speaking of, watching Chernet's face as I watched him lick the bowl the first time was PRICELESS.

The outfits they put on when they woke up.

When we told him to get dressed for bed....

....and five minutes later

Sunday, September 2, 2012

HIV & Our Everyday

I have been waiting for this post for awhile.  I wanted to really speak truthfully and experiential about it when I finally wrote it..... When we agreed to HIV+ adoption, we did not know what Chernet's health would be. He could have been very ill....had TB in the past....had other opportunistic or AIDS-defining illnesses....had a very low CD4 count or high viral load..... or all of the above.  Regardless, we were said "okay."  We said yes. 

Chernet got off the plane around 1:00 am on Monday, July 23.  At three o'clock in the afternoon this neurotic pediatrician mom had us at the Infectious Disease clinic for blood work (after filing for insurance of course).  He was is skinny and I was quite worried about his health.  He hopped his tiny tail up in the chair and did little more than smile as they drew about 11 vials of blood from his little arm.  They drew CD4 (immune system cell that HIV attacks), viral load (amount of HIV in his blood), electrolytes, CBC, and nutritional labs. 

Chernet was taking one and half tabs in the morning and one tab at night of Triomune Junior, a drug I later learned that is not available in the US but used in resource-limited countries.  He was also taking Bactrim, as are all HIV+ kids in Ethiopia, because CD4 counts are not regularly checked.  That first day we gave him the pill.  He easily swallowed it with a sip of water better than most teens I see at the hospital. 

We got his labs back.... his CD4 was great, in the 1500s.  His viral load was UNDETECTABLE.  His labs were otherwise unremarkable.  (the bad mom in me still hasn't sent the stool studies....tomorrow's goal).  We were all so shocked...even the ID doctors.  They had us repeat his basic test to prove he was even HIV+... he was, but shockingly well controlled.

We had a decision to make.... once he runs out of his supply of meds from Ethiopia, which have him so well controlled, do we stay on the same three meds that make up his one pill or do we switched to a more common regimen here in the US.  The medicines that make up his combination may have unfavorable side effects but switching regimens could make his CD4 drop as well other potential side effects.....

So after conversations with the ID docs, we decided to stay on the same regimen.  Once his pills run out, he will take one and half pills in the morning and at night plus 15 mLs both times. 

EVERYDAY LIFE WITH HIV (at least around here):

We really do not notice it.  That is not a minimalization of it.  Chernet takes his medicines.... and honestly, Tedi is the best reminder. 

"Uh, mommy, it is time for my vitamin and Chernet's medicine."  Thanks dear.  I realize I am a sub-par parent at times.

Tedi was a bit jealous at first, hence the implementation on the twice daily vitamins.  My parents have kept the boys without issues.  There may be some more pains when we add another liquid to it...

The only time we notice it is when someone asks about it.... normally the big questions are concerns about bleeding...that makes most people nervous... what happens if he bleeds around them?  Well, we clean it up.  That is it.  Seriously, I promise you can really get it from only from sex, needles and pregnancy....  and we are not doing that at dinner parties... Well, at least not at our house.  :-)

I will post updates about this occasionally but otherwise there is not always a ton to tell.  If you have questions, please send us an email!  We would love to answer questions.  I am giving my presentation this Thursday on HIV....fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

All of Me

A lump welled in my throat as my iPhone lit up with a new message.  I just plopped down onto a hospital waiting area couch dressed uncomfortably in a suit, fresh from my second pediatric critical care fellowship interview. It had been a tough week with family and the boys..... Despite this, initially, I was on a high.  For one for the first times in my career, I felt that I could talk about something intelligently and feel a little bit smart.  Then, in an unfamiliar lobby in an unfamiliar city, I sat voice quivering fighting back the nagging pressure of tears trying to make my mascara run.  I had a voicemail from Chernet's school counselor....that is never who you want calling.  Then, I got a hold of JT.  Chernet had troubles in school on Monday and on Wednesday....troubles with personal boundaries and social behaviors (I am going to leave it at that for now.)  However, Thursday was the worst incident. 
As JT re-told the incident, spoke reassuring words to me, explained the plan of the school (who has been remarkably great with us), I fought tears and a breaking heart.....I was breaking, not for myself, but this smiling little boy.... a boy whose previous life we do not know the details of....if these behaviors are cultural, attention seeking or a result of experiences we do not want him to have had.  I knew I may be blowing it out of proportion.  JT, my wonderful husband, had calmly handled all of it.  He was reasonable when I was not....(not always the case).  Even as I let the tears come out as I called my friend and she again reassured me and loved on me with her words, I felt sad.  Could it be normal behavior?  Sure, maybe.  JT called back and reminded me, "nat, parenting is tough.  parenting an adopted child is tough in a different way.  There are past hurts and experiences we can not change.  we are called to this and therefore must love Chernet through this. We have to love him regardless."  Truer words have not been spoken. 
I found myself on Friday afternoon sitting in the O'Hare F terminal, the one for the small local planes without real jetways, trying to drown out the sounds of the air unit and airplane engines.  I put in my ear phones, with only the right ear working well.  My Pandora mix of Wilson Phillips, Katy Perry, Sister Hazel, old school Mariah, Zac Brown, Bruno Mars, and OneRepublic was more than the O'Hare 3G could handle so I was flipped on my iTunes.  I missed the first song as I rambled through a couple of interview thank you notes.  Then, Matt Hammitt started singing in my right ear.  I restarted the song and began focusing on the words.
I first heard this song when JT's cousins, Richie and Brooke, lost their 7 day old son, Eli, in our very own ICU here in Louisville.  This song was played at Eli's funeral.  Upon further reading, the song was written by the leader singer of Sanctus Real,  Matt Hammitt, after his son, Bowen, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  The song is completely fitting for the illness and journey these families go through.  While my journey is not like that of parents who deal with HLHS, the words of this song really made me stop and think... Chernet (as well as Tedi) is worth all of my love, all of my tears....even if I can not go back and change his past....I can just love him the rest of his future.  I realize this issue may seem minimal because I am not talking a lot about specifics.... but adoption can be messy and we are called to just keep pushing through and loving...This song helped me realize....JT was right. There you go, I admitted it (only once). We must love.  Continue to love, no matter what. 

Afraid to love
Something that could break
Could I move on
If you were torn away?
And I'm so close to what I can't control
I can't give you half my heart
And pray He makes you whole

You're gonna have all of me
You're gonna have all of me
'Cause you're worth every falling tear
You're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love
Even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me is where I'll start

I won't let sadness steal you from my arms
I won't let pain keep you from my heart
I'll trade the fear of all that I could lose
For every moment I share with you

Heaven brought you to this moment, it's too wonderful to speak
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me

It's where I'll start