Monthly Archives: April 2012

Happily Home

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Tuesday of last week, a mad rush to get out of Congo began. The morning started just like every other one since I’d been there. Well, except for the dual lice treatments and added fun of stripping down every piece of linen in close proximity to Hudson and me. Yes, there was a lice infestation in our group of adoptees, and we were not taking any chances on carrying these little critters home with us. Not sure if the two of us had it or not because I never saw a bug, and I am bad to get sympathy pain, itching, nausea, etc. if someone around me is complaining of an ailment. Either way, I know we’re lice free now, and that’s what counts. ūüôā

Even though Hudson and I had a flight scheduled to leave that evening, we were just taking the day slow, knowing that we’d likely have to postpone it yet again. I’d gotten news that morning that the exit letter had not been issued, and there was yet to be a sign of the person who had to approve it in the immigration office. I Skyped with Dylan around 1:30pm, and let him know the unfortunate, but expected news that we would not be coming home today. I let him know that I planned on changing the flight to Friday just to be safe. We said our goodbyes, and Hudson and I went downstairs to see what the others in the group were up to.

When I walked in their door, our translator was in there on the phone. He hung up and said….”Your letter has been issued!”. ¬†In total disbelief, I cried tears of joy and realized that I had little time to get everything done that had to be done to fly out in a number of hours. I ran (literally) upstairs to my room, threw everything, randomly into my checked bags, made a quick Skype call to the hubs to relay the incredible news, and jumped in the carbon monoxide filled cab to confirm my flight, and check my bags. You can’t just hop on the internet in DR Congo to confirm a flight, and you actually check your bags at a totally separate location than the airport. Interesting. I can’t really describe just how close we were to us not making it out of there on Tuesday, but I’ll just say, it was ridiculously close. The airline check-in closed 15 min after I got there, and I was 30 min late to the airport. Traffic was at a standstill. Everything seemed to be getting in the way of us getting home. But it all worked out. Our flight was actually delayed due to some bad weather, which was exactly what needed to happen. ¬†I boarded the plane and exhaled, a humongous sigh of relief. We were going home.

Our flight went well. ¬†Economy actually treated us right this time. It was no business class, with 5 course meals and hot towels for our face, but we managed. ūüôā Hudson did incredibly well and did not fuss until the last leg (the 2 hour flight from Chicago to B’ham). I was pretty cranky by this point too, so I don’t blame him. But we got off that tiny United Express flight, and were greeted by the two faces that I’d been longing to see for weeks now. It was Daddy and Mila. The entourage of spectators were not there this time, and that was fine. I was so glad to see my little family, all together for the first time. We loved, and made introductions, and my precious and talented friend, Allison, was there to document it all. Then, we went downstairs where the rest of our family and friends who came to welcome us home, waited. Click¬†here to check out some pics and a sweet story to go with it.

My bags didn’t quite make it home, but I cared not. I was home, Hudson was home, and that was all that mattered.

We made it the house, after a quick stop at Publix for one more lice treatment (just to be sure). I got home stripped down in the garage, de-loused myself, and shaved my poor infant son’s head. It was slightly traumatic for all involved, but we made it through. And we’re kinda liking his new ‘do.

So we’re home, we’re all together again, and life is good. Mila is doing great and is crazy about her new brother. Daddy is happy to be able to get back to working regularly, and Mommy is loving juggling her new job responsibilities. It is NOT easy, but worth every minute of it. I’m finding my new normal. It means zero “me time”, but isn’t that what this is all about? Giving more of yourself than you even knew you had to give, and then giving a little more. That is parenthood in a nutshell…how it is meant to be anyway. There is no way to explain my sanity right now aside from God’s grace. I am totally sleep deprived, can’t believe I haven’t blown a gasket at one of the kids, and my house, well, it is far from “show-ready” 99% of the time (which is not good when it’s on the market). Oh well, I’m a work-in-progress as always. Going to try to grab a little shut-eye while the two babes are napping. More…soon.

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Wait We Will

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I should be on the plane headed for home, as we speak, but instead, I am here in my room, writing this unfortunate tale. I got the tough, but sort of expected news this morning, that my plans to depart today had been squashed, by one dude who did not sign one sheet of paper. No exit letter = No leaving the country with my new baby boy. So, after another $250 change fee to move my flight, and a journey in the exhaust-filled taxi that lasted 5 ¬Ĺ hours and cost $65, I returned to the guest house for more days of fun in the hot Congo sun. ūüôā Hope you can sense my sarcasm.

Really though, I am fine. And Dylan is fine…much better today than yesterday when I gave him the news that this may not be happening. I don’t think it was so much the fact that I would not be returning as planned, but the reason that it wasn’t going to happen.

Life in Congo is not like life in the States, of course, everyone knows that. But things that are just the norm for us, like taking care of your responsibilities and there being consequences for not taking care of them, aren’t the same here. I won’t go into detail about why I did not get my exit letter because, #1 it would floor you, and #2, I’m not sure that punking out an official of the country I am trying to get of, is such a good idea. I will say that my letter has been ready and waiting to be approved for DAYS now, and just needs one little tiny signature that isn’t getting scribbled in. It is beyond frustrating.

Aside from all that silly business, me and the little guy are doing great. I took him back to the doctor today and got a good report. His lungs were clear, and he has been fever free for over a week now. The cough and spitting up continue, but I think getting him out of the smog- filled air and to a good Children’s Hospital, (I think I know of one ;)), seem to be the answer to that. So, we wait. Wait to get home, to get to the doctor, to unite this little guy with his new family and friends. We wait.

But I’ll be spending the next few days soaking up all of these moments alone with my precious baby boy.

And anticipating the reunion… with the bestest of hubs (and daddys), and my lovely, quirky, ridiculously snuggly, hilariously unpredictable, one of a kind, Mila Mae. The ache of the absence of these two is getting fierce.

No letter today :(

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So the waiting game continues. We did not get that exit letter we were expecting today, but continue to be hopeful that we will, in time for me to keep my flight for Saturday evening. And be home by¬†Sunday!!! Man, that sounds good. Please pray with us that the letter will be received tomorrow, and me and that bebe’ will be on the big bird this weekend. If on the off chance we don’t get to leave, that will be okay too. It will stink (I want to use the stronger word, but will spare any minors that may be reading), but there is a good reason for the delay, and our family rests in the Lord’s will for us.

It got really hard yesterday when Skyping with Mila. She said, “Mommy…Hug”. Oh my gracious. The tears started flowing. I wanted to come right through that computer and grab that little booger up and not let go. But I will…soon. That little girl is something special. I know all children are…when they are yours. But I just can’t help but praise God for the wonderful things He has done in the creation of our family. Man, am I blessed. It is not the way I had it all planned out in my head, years ago, but I am so thankful it’s not. It’s better. So when I’m fussin’ and ready to go home tomorrow, I have to remember that my timing is not always God’s timing, and His is always best. Better than we will ever fully understand.

Thank you all for your love, prayer and support throughout this process. We cannot wait to be home, get this coughy/gaggy little guy to the doctor (pretty sure he’s got some reflux going on), and proceed with life thereafter.

Oh, and one more prayer request…our real estate agent showed the house again today and we need a buyer!! Pray they LOVE it, cannot live without it, and make an offer. ūüôā That would be almost as exciting as getting me and Junior home. Almost.

Inching Closer to Home

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It’s Wednesday, Day 12.

Today was a good day. Long as all get out, but good. We were hoping to hear some good news on our exit letter, but we heard nothing. Though this been a super quick trip, as Congo adoptions with our group go, so I’m not complaining about that whatsoever, but the waiting game is always a killer. You just never know when it’ll be time to go. Nothing is a set time, a set fee, everything seems negotiable. I was told I “should” have my exit letter tomorrow. We’ll see. If so, I’m bookin’ the next flight outta here!

Not that I don’t love Congo and all, because I do. It is the birthplace of both of my kids. I will miss some things here, and I am loving the time I have to be alone with my baby boy. But… I’m ready to get back to my baby girl, my baby daddy, and just the comforts of home. Just a few of the other things that I miss right now, most of us take for granted, like good, hard water, that helps you to actually feel clean after a shower, and¬†(bonus!) helps your hair not look like someone just dumped a bucket of¬†mayonnaise¬†on it. My dishwasher, though not the greatest in the world, cleans things¬†for¬†me. This washing bottles in the bathroom sink every night thing, is kinda getting old, quick. My bed. Mmmmmmm, my bed. And lastly, I miss giving just a little bit of attention to my appearance. Yes, I’ve let myself go a bit more since I’ve been staying at home with Mila. My hair is need of some serious highlights, and I’m sure Dylan would appreciate me using a little makeup now and then, or getting out of my robe before noon.¬†But it’s hard to explain the degree to which you just don’t care what you look like here. I will try.

When you actually do leave the place you are staying, you are piled DEEP into a “taxi” (which is what we would consider an old run down hatchback that you’re lucky if you don’t breakdown in). There is no A/C in these cars, not one that we’ve ridden in has had it. So you get the sweaty + windblown look when you arrive at your destination, not to mention the smell of sweat mixed with the smoke of whatever trash substance is burning roadside. Lovely. I am currently wearing the same shirt I slept in last night, that I wore all day today, and will probably wear to bed again tonight, and possibly to breakfast tomorrow. No one seems to notice or care. I shower…maybe every other day, and when I do, it matters not. I still look the same way I did right before I got in. I may smell a¬†teensy¬†bit nicer, but hey, no one here’s getting too close. That is, except for the locals, who have no understanding of personal space. I mean, none. Most of them are way sweaty, and stinky too, so who cares? It just sweltering hot so it all mixes in together. Shoes or no shoes, you walk around with Walmart feet daily because the floors are ick from all the dust/dirt that just hangs in the air. I tell you all of this to explain the lovely photo below.

Once you¬†have¬†bathed, and actually knock a layer or two of dirt, sweat, and grime off of you, you don’t want to get your feet all nast’ again right away. My solution? Ankle socks with flip flops. That’s cool right? I rocked this look all evening yesterday. I’m sure the locals got a kick out of me. This is what I like to call “Letting yourself go–Congo style”.

It rained cats and dogs this morning which settles the dust, and cools things off a bit, but only for a little while, then the heat came back with a vengeance. And it was H.O.T. hot. We did nothing but sit around and wait to hear something. ¬†I would spend these aimless hours blogging more, but I am consumed with all things baby right now. He’s on me like white on rice, 24/7. Mealtime, hangtime,¬†bath time, even bedtime. We’re pretty¬†inseparable. So, I’ve had to get creative to be able to function. I don’t have a swing, I don’t have a Bumbo, and I don’t have a bouncy seat, here. But what I¬†do have, are these two arms, a Baby Bjorn, and a little bit of creativity. ūüôā¬†And one pleasant go-with-the-flow kinda kid.

We hope to have some good news of our return by tomorrow, so I’ll try to keep things posted. ¬†However, now I need to rest while he is resting. What’s up with this whole waking up every couple of hours thing? Don’t babies know how to sleep ? ūüėČ Sleep¬†deprivation¬†will rock your world. I feel like I’m normalizing now, but for a few days there, I’m not sure I was completing coherent sentences. So…I’m off to bed…for a little while at least. ūüôā

Days 5-7

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On Wednesday, we moved to guest house that we stayed at when we adopted Mila. The other hotel was fine, but the staff did not speak any English which makes it difficult to ask for anything, and our internet connection was the pits. We were also divided up onto two floors, and the rooms were pretty small, with no common area for all the toddlers to play. This made it very difficult to keep them occupied day after day. We’ve been Skyping regularly with Daddy and Mila which is AWESOME! I think Mila is going to be the best big sister. Right now, she is crazy about this little guy. Hopefully that won’t change too much.

our first family photo ūüôā

In route from the hotel to the guest house, I got news that Hudson’s visa was issued!! Due to his history of illnesses, and his current condition, his visa was able to be¬†expedited. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord uses things that hurt the most to bring us good things in the end? ¬†It looks like it will not be a 5 week stay like last time.

Going back to the guest house was a welcomed change. Everyone in the group has stayed here before. We know the staff, ¬†my room is great, the AC is cool, they speak-a En-glase, and the other kids seem to be enjoying all the room to roam. Hudson couldn’t care less, but he’s pretty easy to please at this point.¬†Unfortunately, this is the place where I got the dreaded spider bite. And much to my dismay, I found and killed one spider soon after arriving, so I figured I should scope out the place before settling in. I pulled out my flashlight, and checked corners, as well as under the furniture and beds. I found 8 total, but hey, look on the bright side, it’s better than the 17 I killed the last time I was here. ūüôā I was also greeted by this little guy…just like my first night here¬†last time. Kinda creepy, don’t you think?


So I hosed the room down with spider spray, and was able to slay 6 0f the 8, for sure. The 2 under the bed, may still be lurking there, but I’m at the point of just trying to forget they’re there, so I can sleep at night. I wrapped the mosquito net tightly around the bed, tucked it into the mattress, inspected every square inch of the covers to be sure there were no surprises there, and curled up for the night. Lord, please keep the spiders in their happy little homes, and out of my bed.

The morning comes way too soon when you are up every 2-3 hours during the night. Apparently the whole, getting the baby on any type of schedule thing, has not happened as of yet. He grazes when he is hungry and takes little cat naps. Momma’s got some work to do in this area. But, he needs to gain weight, he needs lots of iron, so I am trying to find the line between attempting to get him on a schedule, and just letting the kid eat when he will. Hopefully each day we can progress a little. He seems to be feeling much better. He ran a low grade temp for the past two days on and off, but today, he has been fever free. The cough is still hanging around, but I’m not too concerned about that yet. He does have pneumonia. Can you tell?

Our paperwork went to immigration yesterday and we hope to get that back in the next week. (???) That would be super quick, but why not hope and pray for the best, and see what happens. I went ahead and scheduled my departing flight for next Saturday, so  pray with us for a quick turn-around, and no hiccups in the process from here on out.

I would also like to ask for prayer for the other families that I am staying with. The 2 other mom’s who are staying with me for the duration, have 2 toddlers a piece. Both are dealing with more than I can tell you, or you could imagine. Adoption is just hard. Adopting a toddler is even harder. Adopting a toddler that does not speak your language…ridiculously hard. And add yet another newly adopted toddler to that scenario, and you’ve officially got your hands full. I cannot imagine having Mila x2 at that stage in our relationship. Those first two weeks are really rough as it is, but they’ve got 2 of them, and have the added issues of sibling rivalry, and fighting over Mommy’s attention. I am praying for the Lord fill them up, as they are completely emptied out daily, by their situations. Lord, use these difficulties to grow their relationships with these children, and to show these Momma’s more and more of Yourself everyday. Amen.

The Beginning: Life with Hudson

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I’ll start with the cuteness… enough said.

I have been in Congo for almost a week and not a word has been written to the ole blog. It has been quite a crazy trip so far, and there is much that I want to say, so I’m going to try to break this up into a couple of posts to keep this from being the longest one in history.

On April 7th, after a full 24 hours in the air, I arrived to the Kinshasa airport for the second time. My stay in Congo began at a hotel with really bad internet access which makes it hard stay connected to folks back home. Aside from that, this whole mothering an infant thing has kept me pretty darn busy. I met this little, baby precious on Sunday evening, for the first time. April 8th, Gotcha Day. ūüôā It was a very emotional introduction. For months now I have been dying to get this child in my arms, to care for him, to love on him, to get him the medical attention he needs. And now, he is here, snuggled in my arms.



He is prettier than a picture, inside and out. And just like his sister, he was obviously adored by his foster family. His Congolese name is Junior Taylor, but like Mila, his foster family gave him a nickname. Mila’s was “Jenny Balola“, which means Jenny dances, and if you know Mila, you know how she got that name. They called Hudson, “Papa Junior”. Haven’t got the story on that yet, but even the other foster children living in their home are calling him “Papa”. Maybe they think he looks like a little old man, or like his foster father, who they all call “papa”. I’m not quite sure, but one thing I do know, is that he was well loved, and it did not take me long to see why. He has the greatest personality. He is not a complainer, and he loves to smile, coo, and giggle. He will give you the biggest toothless grin you’ve ever seen, and then tell you about how great he thinks you are with a loud “Aaaaaaaaaa”.

Within a few minutes of meeting the little guy, I noticed a cough that concerned me. I figured this may have something to do with the on again, off again, illnesses that have been plagueing him for the past few months. I asked our translator/escort if we could take him to the doctor, and was told we were going to be taking a couple of the kids on Tuesday. I was fine with that. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day with our Embassy visits, and I’ve learned that trying to get more than one task done here in a day is pretty impossible. If you’re not familiar with the term, you’ll quickly learn the meaning of Africa time here.

Monday, April 9th, our group, consisting of 4 parents, 7 (yes, I said 7) kids, and our translator, walked down the street from our hotel, to the Embassy for our appointments. (I feel like a total wimp in this group of seasoned adopting families. I am the only one not adopting 2 at the same time, on this trip. My job right now is pretty easy in comparison to these folks.) The appointments went really well, and I got news that our visa should be back this week!

During the night, Hudson woke at 3:3oam, and it was not just to eat. He had a 103 temperature, and was fussy for the first time. I Skyped with his Daddy to let him know he was getting sick again. During this adoption process, every time we would get news that Hudson was sick, the only symptom we ever got was that the baby has a fever. Now I know why. A couple of hours later, around 6 a.m., Hudson woke again with a 105.4 fever. I was freaking out a bit, no, I was freaking out a lot, I am not gonna lie. I knew what to do, and did it, but I was really scared. I got some baby Tylenol in him first, and rushed him to the shower for a cool rinse. He loved that, let me tell you. He was screaming, I was freaking out, and I couldn’t call anyone to help. They don’t exactly have 911 here or even a phone in the room for that matter. I ran down the hall, and knocked on one of the other adopting family’s doors with no answer. I grabbed Hudson, and took him downstairs to another fellow momma. I know there is really nothing else I can do at this point, other than what I was doing, but I needed someone to be with me. Hudson starting have a febrile seizure, just the eye blinking kind, not a tonic clonic (full body shaking) seizure, but still, it was very scary.

His fever began to come down slowly and we made it to the doctor later that morning.¬†We saw¬†Dr. Sharrief, the Godsend that saw me on my last trip to Congo. Can I just tell you, I love this man. An English speaking doctor, trained in the States, that lives in Kinshasa, DRC, and is as kind and gentle, as any doc I’ve ever seen. He has been an oasis for this Momma, twice now, in a dry and weary land. When I walked through his door for the first time, I knew I was in good hands. This time he reassured me that he felt Hudson would be fine.¬†Labs were drawn and a chest xray was done. Hudson was so good. The kid was smiling and cooing while being stuck with a 21 gauge needle. Are you kidding me? I ask for the butterfly needle (23 gauge) when I get my¬†blood drawn, for the love. Obviously, he has been through a lot and is used to being uncomfortable. ūüė¶ He just grinned at the nurse as he drew the blood. It was insane!

We returned to his office later that afternoon for results, and all the labs looked good as far as all the big, bad, chronic stuff. Of course his white count was up, and he is very anemic. The chest xray showed pneumonia, which explained the cough and high fever. We were given a few prescriptions, and were on our way. The relief I felt is difficult to put into words. For months I have known my baby was sick. For months I have wanted answers, and some sort of diagnosis. For months I have wanted to be able to be his advocate, his Momma, and get him the care he needed. Now… I know what’s going on. Now, I am able to be the Momma he’s needed. This does not mean that he will always be well, or guarantee anything past this moment in time, but for now… I can exhale. So I did, and cried tears of joy. And praised the Lord for His grace in this little baby’s short life.

It is getting really late and I need to get some rest, so I will try to catch up the last couple of days, tomorrow. But here’s one more pic of His Royal Cuteness.


Leaving with a heavy heart

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Even though it is after 2a.m. Kinshasa time, I couldn’t help but stay up to write down the latest in Taylor news. The past week was a total blur. We got a call that Hudson was sick last weekend. This changed all travel plans. Looks like I will be staying for the duration, which is good and bad. I won’t have to leave Hudson, but I will have to leave the rest of my family alone for an extended period of time.

This change lead to lots more purchasing and packing, weighing, repacking and reweighing. Along with this sudden change in plans. We decided to list our house with an agent and it went live yesterday on MLS. So, I’ve been readying our home by lots of cleaning and organizing, planting flowers, scrubbing showers, and all the while trying to soak up every last moment I have with my baby girl, and that man that I couldn’t ask to be anything more than he is to me. It flew by. It’s gone now. To add to the emotional chaos, a high school friend passed away suddenly this past week, and another huge loss for the Taylor family…our dear first born canine son, Jacky… died. Yes, I said it, and I hate that those of you who knew him are finding out this way. He was one of a kind. The knot comes back in my throat every time I mention it.

For anyone not familiar with Jackson Taylor, he was not your average pup. You could not help but love this dog to death. He was SO sweet, so loving, so happy to see everyone. He loved his leash, he loved his ball, and was quite psycho about his post-dinner bones. He stood at the side of the bed EVERY single morning snorting at me to get up and feed the beast. He was truly a gift the 8 years he was on this earth, but unfortunately, Jacky did have one big hiccup in his awesomeness. He had a love for socks, undies and apparently Mila’s footed jammies.¬†

We took Jacky in to the vet on Wednesday after multiple vomiting spells. He had an obstruction and as much as we hated to spend the money, AGAIN, we told the vet to open him up (for the third time in the past 3 years) and remove all the articles of clothing that were clogging up his system. The surgery went well, and Jacky was recovering fine. On Thursday morning as I was planting flowers on the front porch, Dylan opens the door, and with a look of despair and eyes full of tears, he says, “Jack died”.

It’s still hard to wrap our brains around. He is gone, for good. Probably a post-op complication like a blood clot, or something, but whatever the cause, all that matters is, he will not return home. He will not snort at us when he wants something, or wake us up in the middle of the night 100 times, or cause us to have crazy habits of dealing with our dirty and clean laundry, and for that we are heartbroken. And to add to the difficulty, I had to leave my family at the peak of craziness for an undetermined amount of time.

So I left, I had to. I’ve got to come get my boy. I have guilt about leaving, in so many areas. Leaving Daddy with all of his responsibilities, plus mine, plus a huge hole in his heart where Jackson used to be. Leaving Mila for the first time ever, not knowing when I will return, and leaving Annabelle, Jacky’s sister and best friend who has also been mourning with us. It was a lot. ¬†I really can’t explain the closeness of Dylan and Jack. They were like peas and carrots :). But I have to keep preaching to myself that God knows exactly why Jack was taken from us at this absolutely insane time. Maybe it’s because our house will sell and Jack would not be able to live in our next home, maybe Hudson would be allergic, maybe the Lord wanted us to spend our money on greater things than our animals, maybe the timing is perfect because life is so hectic right now and so exciting, with our new son coming home, that the distraction will help to heal that wound. Whatever the reason, we both trust in the Lord and do not question why. But we do still mourn our loss.

In a crazy twist of the storyline, I made it to Kinshasa. I am settling in, trying to go to sleep, and greatly anticipating seeing my boy with my own two eyes. Touching his soft cheeks to mine, and kissing his tiny little toes. I’m all ready for you little guy.

But leaving this…

and this… ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† (isn’t he such a good Daddy, feeding that baby)

and this…

behind, is SOOOOooooo tough though. When I return, Lord-willing, I will have this

in my arms. It’s all a part of the labor pains of adoption. The Taylor fam will be glad when we can all be together in one happy home. Wherever that may be.