Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is a long one, people

So all of a sudden my life is out of control.  September isn't even here yet and I already have no room on my calendar to add anything without sacrificing a small slice of sanity.  And because I've learned my lesson on overbooking our lives and because I'm trying to practice a little thing called the rhythm of rest, I realized through a conversation with dear friends that something had to go.  And that something is our garage sale.  I just can't pull it off.  Scratch that, I just can't pull it off well.  So we will be postponing our garage sale until the spring.  Whew.  I feel better already.

The only thing that makes me a little hesitant is that I was counting on our garage sale to make a significant dent in our upcoming dossier fee (4,100 big ones due in December when we hopefully turn in our completed dossier), but God has been ridiculously faithful and you have been ridiculously generous so I'm not too worried.

We are in full blown home study mode.  We've turned in a huge chunk of our paper work and we have our interviews on the calendar (one of the things that got dumped on my unwitting September calendar).  Eric and I will each have 1.5 hour individual interviews, followed by a joint 2 hour interview and a 1 hour home visit during which our social worker will visit our home (duh) and meet Lila.
Maybe I can recreate something this charming for our home visit.  Who could give us a bad report when this cuteness is happening in our home?  I ask you.
In the meantime, we are gathering the rest of our paperwork.  Unfortunately the easy stuff is done.  Of course, it's easy to do the simple paperwork first: budgets, references, contact info, etc.  The difficult paperwork is things like the "Issues to Consider" questionnaire with questions like "How will you help your child develop his or her own racial identity?" and "Do you as parents feel ready to prepare your child for the prejudices he/she will encounter as a black person in a society where race relations are sometimes strained?"  Eek.  Those are good but hard questions.  They are questions I don't have good answers to, but fortunately were designed to spark discussion and thoughts, not to judge us on our transracial parenting abilities.  Before these questions, I think I thought, "I won't care if my child is black or white!  I'll love them just the same."  It never occurred to me that parenting a child of a different race is much more than just my own ability to see past his or her skin color.  It's about equipping them to know who they are and what to say or do when other people can't see past their skin color.

As challenging as that questionnaire was, even more difficult has been the sheet titled "Profile of the Child to be Adopted."  I think a more apt title would be "Eliminating All the Children You Won't Adopt."  The sheet is a basic checklist of medical and physical conditions (everything from Down's Syndrome to HIV to heart problems to facial birthmarks).  We have to go through and check Yes, No or Will Consider for each condition.  With every "no" I check, I am haunted by the faces of unknown children who may never find a forever family because they are not the much-desired "healthy infant."  There is something that just feels wrong about being able to choose the kind of child you want (like something out of Gattaca).  After all, if I were to give birth to our next child and he or she had a deformity or a medical problem, surely there wouldn't be a box to check on our hospital discharge papers that said, "Yes, I will consider parenting this child."

But in the case of our next baby, we have choices.  Like it or not.  And the reality is that if we check "yes" on a box, the likelihood of receiving a referral for a child with that medical issue is very high for the simple reason that most people check "no."  So it's not as simple as playing the genetic lottery as we would with a biological baby.  And we have to consider what we are equipped to handle and the kind of life we are choosing for Lila by checking "yes" on even one of those boxes.

Can you see why we have been procrastinating this form?  It's heartbreaking.  But we cannot proceed without filling it out.  We have to make these decisions.  We have discussed and prayed and thought and researched and in the end, we have decided, like many other adoptive parents, to ask for a healthy infant.  It's painful to write those words.  I don't know how much of that pain is from the aforementioned reality that saying "yes" to a healthy infant means denying a sick child yet another chance at a mommy and daddy.  Or maybe a part of that pain is pride.  I think I'd much rather say proudly that we checked "yes" on every box - of course we'll adopt the most unwanted!  Of course we'll care for the child whose needs overwhelm most people.  Of course!  But when it comes down to it, is self-righteous pride any reason to make a decision that will affect not only our life, but the life of our daughter?

For us a healthy infant is a safe beginning.  We figure we don't even know what having an adopted child is like.  We are still unfamiliar with the unique struggles and difficulties of a transracial family.  Heck, we still don't know what it's like to have more than one kid!!  In the end, one of the things that helped us to make the decision to request a healthy infant is that we don't think this adoption will be our last adoption.  I know it's premature to say this, being in such an early stage of this adoption, but we hope to give our adopted child an Ethiopian brother or sister.  Our hope is that, once we understand a sort of baseline experience of a "normal" adopted child, we will have a better grasp on any other factors we might be able to add to that. We may find that a transracial, adoptive family is excitement enough for us and again decide to request a healthy infant.  Or, we may decide that we feel called and equipped to adopt a child with special needs.  Or perhaps an older child.  The thought of that is a small way for me to feel at peace about saying no to the hundreds or thousands of children who may not ever have a family.

In the end, it's still possible that we would request a healthy infant and get him or her home to discover an undiagnosed medical problem.  In which case, we would remain delighted to be his or her parents and trust God to equip us with the grace and mercy needed to provide health and happiness for our baby.  It would be our honor to follow in the footsteps of our friends Dan and Laurisa, who continue to amaze me each day with the perseverance and faith they show as they adjust to their new normal with Baby Emmaus.

As a quick update, Emmaus has continued to have anywhere from 7-15 seizures a day.  The doctors have advised Dan and Laurisa to allow the seizures to happen so they can figure out what a "baseline" is for their daughter.  Meaning, "normal" for Emmaus might be 20 seizures a day.  They need to figure out what normal is so that they can know what abnormal looks like.  Dan and Laurisa calmly comfort and protect their daughter as her body seizes, timing the seizures, riding them out.  I can't help but think of Little Sister's reports of Laurisa in labor (she was in the room for much of Laurisa's labor with Emmaus). She described Laurisa as calm, serene, quiet.  (None of those adjectives would accurately describe me during my labor, by the way!)  Jess said when a contraction would hit, Laurisa would close her eyes and breath softly, waiting for it to pass.  I watched Laurisa do much the same thing with Emmaus' seizures.  She leans in and calmly rides the waves of the storm in Emmaus' brain.  I know that she doesn't feel calm all the time.  I know that she is heartbroken and disappointed and angry and exhausted.  But Laurisa has said, "I know we're covered."  She has testified to the mercy of God stepping in at just the right time to give them a reprieve.  And she says, "I still think God will heal her."

You might be thinking,"But what if He doesn't?" and Laurisa has an answer for that, too.

"It's not my job to protect myself from being disappointed.  It's my job to have faith in God being who He says He is."

Friends, it is an honor to walk alongside people like this.  And because of Laurisa's faith, I can say that I, too, believe that God will heal Emmaus.  We got to gather together as a community and pray for Emmaus on Sunday night.  The result of which was 18 hours seizure-free for Emmaus.  We are believing that God's just hinting at what He can do.
I don't know who took this.  Stole it from Laurisa's blog.
So the Kautzi family continues to pray for a miraculous healing for a sweet baby girl.  Lila's prayers have been so sweet.  She loves "Baby 'Maus."  Today at nap, she wanted to "talk to Jesus" about Emmaus.  So I prayed and then I asked her if she wanted to talk to Jesus, too.  Here's what I overheard of that conversation:

"Jesus? 'Maus.  All better."

Couldn't have said it better myself.  Will you pray that with me, tonight?  Tomorrow, Emmaus goes in for an EEG to see if or what damage might have been done to her brain and development as a result of these seizures.  Seizures at such a young age essentially stop development, so the reality of multiple seizures a day is not good.  Please pray with us as we ask that Emmaus' brain is protected from these seizures and that the tumors in her heart and brain would simply disappear.  We hope to some day be able to look at the images from her MRI and see a before shot of a tiny brain cluttered with tumors and an after shot of a healthy brain clean of any trace of tumor.  It would be a miracle, but as Laurisa says, we're just trusting that God is who He says He is.  And He says He is a healer.

Jehovah Rapha, You have given yourself the name of Healer.  We ask that you would heal Emmaus as only you can, in the name of Jesus.



Kelly Sime said...

"But when it comes down to it, is self-righteous pride any reason to make a decision that will affect not only our life, but the life of our daughter?"

Why not leave it up to god?

suz said...

i sit and read every single word you write! love your journey, and love how God is directing every step. you guys are rocking adoption!

LA said...

Thanks for the update on you and us! We too pray for a healthy infant for you! And No condemnation for checking No! I agree that you have to do what is right for your family and I think "No" in this case is right. And as a mama to a "unhealthy" baby I still don't find anything wrong with checking No to those questions. Can't wait to meet that brown little love bug that is gonna be lucky to have you as a mama!

Katy said...

Love reading your blog too, I get such a sense of peace when reading it even when it is about LA's baby girl or when you were blogging about Waverly. You are such a wonderful, God loving person Kelsey. So glad we are friends. I can't wait to meet your new child and I agree its okay to check no!

Molly said...

Hey Girl. We have been walking through the exact same hard things you have been lately. Paperwork with ugly choices, decisions that show our real characters, and being forced to say yes or no to things that most people walk into, not pick out for themselves. And, I just wrote a post on race relations this morning then read your post about your plunge into that topic. Ah, this life! LA, if you happen to be reading this comment, YOUR comment make me love you all the more. You are one brave, awesome mama, compassionate mama. How can I be more like you?