Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Crying

Zeke is getting the swaddling thing. I have a wonderful cousin who knows her stuff suggest that holding him as tight as we physically can might help if he is overstimulated, and it has. We are still hearing a lot of screaming, and are swaddling much of the day, but it isn't constant and that is a blessing!
Yesterday we were able to attend church (THANK YOU GOD!) and there is a Burundi refugee population there. For those of you unfamiliar, Burundi is just south of Rwanda and they share much. Etienne was able to meet some of the families and could understand everything they were saying to and about him!
This is Zeke today checking out Sesame Street. Haven't had the tv on much, but this seems to be a winner for everyone.

Friday, September 25, 2009

He Did It

"Small miracles" is what Molly said tonight, regarding our evening. Zeke didn't cry after dinner! He even played a little bit. And the best part was that after his bath, he briefly leaned against me. I got excited and tried to make eye contact, which blew it. But still! Small miracles. I swaddled him every time he yelled today, which was probably about 85% of our day, but it seems to keep him from hurting himself or me. I am thankful that my mom to Blake for a scream break and Etienne took a good nap. Maybe it is the swaddling, maybe it is consistancy, but probably it is just a God thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zeke II

Good news first: Etienne continues to echo any English Blake speaks, loves Sesame Street and is healthy. He's actually lost 3lbs (related to malnutrition and protein). Blake is a great teacher, Molly is nurturing and we are thankful every moment for how amazing the 2 of them are. Prayer Request: Zeke continues to spend his waking hours screaming. He has moments when he will forget for a second to scream (like if I throw a ball) but then he picks up screaming again. We are looking for a crib cover because today I thought he finally wore himself out, so I went to the bathroom. He climbed/fell out of the crib and started to fall halfway down the stairs. It is horrible and it is wearing on the whole family. Out of desperation, I decided tonight to treat him like a newborn and I swaddled him with a giant afgan to get him to calm down. All we can do right now is pray over him and continue to attempt all the bonding/nurturing tactics. I have put in a request for a behavioral/developmental clinic, but haven't heard back yet. I think that the most difficult aspect is that there are moments when I question every decision that we've made thus far. Ryan reminds me that this was God's decision and His plan.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In the days since we've been home, Zeke has become increasingly distant and fearful. It started out a few days ago that he yelled whenever we weren't holding him but has progressed to yelling all the time, including while we hold him. He won't look us in the eyes and tonight when I tried to lotion him after his bath he yelled louder and attempted to climb away from me; eventually trying to claw at my eyes. I prayed over him this whole time and we continue to try to feed him bottles, rock, sing, make him look us in the eyes, but he needs more than parents can give. I have also given him tylenol and motrin today, hoping that maybe something physical is wrong and we have a doctor appt in the morning. We know that we are so blessed by our friends who continue to pray for us and we need it now more than ever.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Transition Prayers

Yes, 2 posts in one day. I am giving a thank you to all the encouragement that I received today; God knew I was (am) struggling and sent me phone calls, emails and replies. While we were waiting for our referral, I remember feeling an unconditional love for Etienne and Zeke before I even knew them; it was just the same as when I was pregnant and felt love for my unborn child. I can't remember the first days of motherhood very well but I do know that I am sure I felt unsure and overwhelmed, just like now. The balance of providing nurturing and bonding but also discipline is killing me. I am the mother of structure and with no tolerance for tantrums. I read all the books and took the classes; heard how all my parenting has to go out the window with adoptive children, but I am really struggling to just go with that. Ryan, on the other hand, is amazing and constantly reminding me that Etienne and Zeke never had anyone to come back in the room over and over and over again, never had anyone care what their behavior was. So I am praying that I can let my old parenting go and just love.

First days Home

This is our third morning home and Ryan is off to school. I'll be honest with you, I feel I owe it to the future adoptive moms reading this. Coming home is the most wonderful and terrifying feeling at the same time. We were blessed with a warm welcome from our family and friends; the boys both have been eager to meet their family, experience carpet, grass and car seats. The reality is that Zeke won't fall asleep and as soon as we step away from the crib, he climbs out and falls. Etienne continues his screaming, but the length and volume of screams are less then they were. I am overwhelmed with what their basis for "normal" was; and how every little detail of our lives is throwing them each a curve ball. Right now we are praying that we remember this is God's plan for us and His strength will help Zeke to sleep and Etienne to chill.
Blake is loving being a big brother and having Etienne as his audience and partner. They enjoy making boy sounds together as loud as they can, and crashing cars together.
Molly is our True North, reminding us constantly of everything good and right. She is so eager to return to school today and share her stories! I am really going to miss she and Ryan today so much.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One More Mountain

After a good day, we lost the wind in our sails. We were informed that it looks very unlikely that the Embassy will grant us our visa interviews tomorrow because they only do interviews in the morning and our kid's medical records won't be sent until 1pm. We can't leave the country without the visa interview. As a group, we prayed and requested that God soften the Embassy and grant us one more little miracle. We are asking that you all do the same for our families. This is so frightening and discouraging for all of us, but we know that a week ago God was delivering us from impossible scenarios at the Embassy in Rwanda.
Our guide, T, took us to authentic everything. I am so glad that we've had the Limmers and Himes on the journey with us because not only are they great Christians, they are also a lot of fun! We were able to visit the orphanage that Courtney and Scott's first son, Noah, was adopted from. There were a number of older children and it is really humbling to be Molly's parents and watch her in this environment. She is compassionate and empathetic while being levelheaded. Ryan and I think God may use her in this environment someday. Blake just loved shaking each kid's hand.
Dinner was at an Ethiopian restaurant with live music and dancing. The kids LOVED it. Now picture, just like on the travel channel, a large dish in the middle of the table with various colored pastes and everyone eating with their hands. That was us. Wouldn't you know Blake loved, loved, loved the food. Typical for him to like food from a country known for it's starvation...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bumps in the Road

Warning: this update isn’t as positive or encouraging as K-LOVE.

I haven’t updated the blog in a few days for a number of reasons; primarily because of discouragement. We arrived Sunday evening into Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after a long 2hr flight with 5 crying babies only to learn that Ethiopia doesn’t allow Rwandan orphans into the country and they weren’t going to issue the children’s visas. Once again, it took A LOT of prayers and waiting to get the visas issued (the “chief” said the only reason he didn’t send our children back on the next flight was because they were babies). Hence my lack of blogging Sunday.

Ethiopia is as you picture it: unexplainably poor, crowded, filthy, smelly and overwhelming. Unless you have been here, you have never seen such devastating poverty. Our guest house is cool: everyone has their own bed or crib. Ryan and I are sleeping Lucy and Desi style!

Funny side story: Yesterday at Etienne’s physical when they weighed him, has was leaning on the wall and the girl wrote down 13kg. Ryan and I KNEW that he was way bigger. So we reweighed him ourselves at 17kg (37.5lbs) and told the physician. She said “No, that isn’t right, there is no way a 2 yr old can weigh that much,” attempted to pick him up and then reweighed him herself. Yup!

It has taken much prayer for me to remember that none of this was ultimately Ryan or my doing: Etienne and Zeke are our children and we’re here because it is God’s plan. The last few days have tested our faith more than anything else throughout the adoption process.

To the families waiting, I feel that I owe it to you to warn you – you have many battles to fight and you need to come prepared. The process for Rwandan children is in no way smooth or clear. Today we learned that the children’s immunization cards are in Kinyarwanda, and no one here can or will translate it. Two trips to the Embassy, some sweet talking and prayers later; we have a pediatrician signing it for us. Without the angel, we’d be stuck in Ethiopia until we could find a translator.

Second funny side story: Yesterday the 3 families were waiting for our ride and we noticed a man yelling at us. He kept repeating, “I am a terrorist, follow me so I can kill you,” as he smiled and stood at least 50 feet away. This went on for about 10 minutes, we just laughed, so he walked away smiling.

Another blessing is that Etienne is walking a little more and throwing a few less screaming sessions. He also seems to be eating a little less-like maybe he is already recognizing we’ll keep giving him what he needs.

This morning, we were told we had three appointments; those doubled and we didn’t return until late afternoon-part of this is because nothing Rwandan is routine and nothing in a van with 5 kids is either.

All the challenges and pain we have faced has reminded all of us-the Himes and Limmers too-that God is doing something so much bigger than paperwork, visas, money or red tape. We are just praying to constantly remember that God will see us through. We have 5 beautiful kids (actually 7 ‘cause Molly and Blake are AWESOME) to demonstrate His grace.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last Day in Rwanda

Today was devoted to seeing and experiencing more of Rwandan life before we have to depart for Addis tomorrow. We enjoyed driving out to a lake/park area and having a PB and Jelly picnic we the Himes and Limmers, the other adoptive families and good friends (we've done everything together thus far!) The scenery feels as though is hasn't ever changed. Ryan and I were talking about how seeing dirt huts and barefoot children on the side of the road didn't feel sad at all, just that life is different but no less whole. Nyanga, our guide, invited us to her son's birthday party tonight in her mother's home. Her mom wanted to cook for us and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable evenings and definately the best food we've had! All of us (17) were welcomed into a warm family gathering with tons of kids and food. The children grabbed Molly and Blake for tag and soccer, and both kids had a blast. When it was time to eat, the kids ate off of two giant dishes on the floor. With their hands, just like on the travel channel! We'll have pics, of course. During dinner, Molly told me that she felt like the Little Mermaid-interpret how you may. And every time I checked on Blake, another little Rwandan was rubbing his mop of hair. I know that the two of them will probably remember this night for a long time. We worked today on not carrying Etienne everywhere because he is SO heavy. Didn't go so well. I find it so hard because I know that in his little life, he hasn't ever received much TLC and that right now we have to focus on bonding and trust. HOWEVER, despite what the experts say, we can already see him getting a tiny bit naughty about the whole thing and want to be consistent with rules for all 4 kids. Wish us luck! We didn't sleep much last night because Zeke woke up frequently, but tonight they both went down like pros. Yippee! Tomorrow we say goodbye to the orphanage and then head to Addis. We're told that the temps there are much cooler-looking forward to that.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Today was supposed to be a pleasant visit to the US Consulate office to process our visas. We arrived at 10a and did not leave until after 4p. In between that time we ran (literally, down a street with our babies) twice to the passport office, did a whole lot of begging, bargaining and praying, and were blessed by some miracles in the shape of Rwandan passport workers. At the end of the day, Etienne has a new birthday (11/24), Moses has his second passport in a day, and all 5 kids have their visa papers for next week. Whew! I won't go into any more details other than to say that the US needs to reconstruct the whole international adoption process and I am very grateful for the generosity of Rwandans. The kids were (are) awesome and behaved so well in a borinig office all day. We are learning that Etienne needs a lot of TLC and is so, so physically strong. And Zeke said his first English word today-No! Isn't that typical of an 18 month old?! Sleep update: Much better last night and tonight the newest Higgins boys are already asleep. I did have to physically hold Etienne again, but it took a lot less time for him to calm down. It has only been a couple days, no worries. Molly had ice cream twice today and Blake had a PB and honey sandwich custom made, so their bellies are full. Just another Friday for the Higgins'

Thursday, September 10, 2009

passports and such

Today we had to go get the boys passports-with all the kids. Picture a crowded room with no AC and lots of kids. We waited and waited; they called our number and as soon as we got to the window they informed us that all the kids pictures needed to be in front of a white wall, not a white curtain! Really! So our driver raised us, literally, like the Fast and the Furious, to some hallway with a girl and a camera. Poof! Less then 5 minutes and all 5 kids had new pictures taken. We hopped (sorta) back in our van and our guide told us she'd meet us after developing the pics. By the time we'd unloaded back at the passport office, she came speeding up on the back of a motorcycle with the finished pics! No kidding, it was like a movie! Today was long, and no child here wanted to nap, which made it longer. We were able to drive outside Kigali today to see the countryside. It is breathtaking and timeless, but difficult to look at the scenary without being haunted by the stories and pictures of the genocide. We have noticed so many people with major, major physical scars (machetes were the primary weapon of the genocide) and I can't imagine their emotional scars. Tomorrow, file our I600s and receive the passports. Note to future Rwandan adoptive parents, eating out is never, ever less then a 2 hr affair. Bring your crayons, race cars and patience.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

6 in the bed....

...and the little one said, roll over, roll over. We are all sleeping together tonight and as I type this I can see Etienne's bright eyes watching me from his daddy's arms. Blake has met his match! Etienne and Zeke both began smiling and showing us their true colors today-it couldn't have been bettter. Blake and Etienne rolled cars across the table, back and forth tonight and Molly taught Zeke how to kiss. She also rubbed his back as he fell asleep.
We were able to get our travel letters today from the ministry and tomorrow we'll get their passports.
I don't think we'll be able to put all 4 kids to bed at the same time...reading stories was insane, with all kids talking and pointing at pictures in 3 different languages (French, English and baby jabber).
Also, Zeke refuses anything but baby food and Etienne literally eats whatever we hand him!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just the 6 of Us

The internet speed isn't fast enough to cover all the details of today....Ryan and I headed to the HOH first thing this morning and I was allowed down into the dorms. As soon as Zeke saw me, I got a smile and a grab! Etienne was another story. He was still eating his meal (being forced mouthfuls, really) when I arrived and soon all 38 kids in his room were surrounding me, calling me "Mama, Mama," while Etienne cried. I couldn't even carry him out of the building, but when he saw Ryan he clung to him and fell asleep. Quickly, I found a way to his heart: through his tummy! We LOVED pizza and we cut him off after 2 pieces. Also found the word potty, and he did go. By the end of the day, I was able to hold all three boys on my lap while Molly danced for them. Tomorrow will be the day we bring them back forever with us. Leaving them tonigth was again emotional; this time for the Zeke and Blake. Etienne is like a celebrity when he arrives. All the kids cheer his name! He also found cars and he and Bkake played cars together on the floor. Zeke snuggled up on Molly. We are a family.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our Boys

Today was the day we’d been anticipating and praying for. After two full days of travel, some flight delays and some lost luggage, we arrived safely here in Kigali. The city and the people are welcoming and friendly, and after dropping off our belongings, we headed to the orphanage. House of Hope is located around an incredibly steep and curvy hill, with high walls and blue gates. Beyond the gates, the orphanage has lush green gardens, is clean and open. A few of the Sisters and Nganja, our guide, brought out our boys. I knew Zeke instantly and when they handed him to me, he initially cried, but then wrapped himself around me. Etienne when right into Ryan’s arms and pressed his cheek to Ryan’s. Blake and Molly gave lots of hugs and Blake demonstrated how to jump (he’s been saying for months that he is going to teach his brothers how to jump high!). We were able to snuggle the boys and play for awhile, and when either Ryan or I tried to pump either of them down, they would cry immediately to be held. It was our dream come true! Etienne looks exactly like his picture, very serious and his eyelashes are beautiful. Zeke has a sweet, round babyface and is very snuggly. When it was time for us to say goodbye, he cried and cried and reached for me. Of course, this was heartbreaking but also encouraging that maybe he just knows we are his family. Tomorrow we will be able to spend the day with the boys again. Goodnight and thanks for the prayers. Pray that my luggage arrives tomorrow!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

2 Days Until Blastoff!!!

Our bedroom has been taken over by everything 4 kids and 2 parents need to survive in a developing country for a week. We are happy to learn that we'll go from the airport to the orphanage to our babies! And we'll be updating the blog from the hotel to keep all of our loved withs informed with pictures and experiences. Stay tuned.