It's finally on its way! We sent our dossier to the agency (overnighted it to them) on December 3rd. By December 7th it was on its way to Washington D.C. to be Authenticated and is now on its way to Ethiopia!!! What a huge milestone we've hit. I couldn't be more excited, and wanted to share the good news. After some frustrating delays it feels so incredible to be so close to adding our names to the list of families "OFFICIALLY WAITING" for a referral!
Our agency is currently telling us that it will probably be about 3 months to get a referral, but I imagine this is much more optimistic than what it will end up being. I'm just hopeful that we will be traveling by summer... but who knows! The exciting and difficult part of this is not knowing our "due date." Trying to prepare for a very loose time window is, well, weird? It's not like we can try and plan work/vacation/life schedules around a month or two window. We aren't planning on doing anything to get a nursery ready until we have our referral. This will definitely leave us scrambling to pull things together once the time finally comes, but I'd rather be really busy while waiting to get through court and travel instead of twiddling my thumbs counting the minutes. Besides, if it takes a REALLY long time to get a referral, we could still end up re-listing our house in the spring and moving or something like that! No sense in getting a room ready and then moving before we use it.
At the moment, it all feels a bit unreal. The emotions of this entire process can be surprising. At this point, every bit of progress feels like something to celebrate. Our process has gone quite quickly, other than a few months of doing nothing while waiting for Joe's job situation to work itself out. I know the wait ahead will make the last few months feel like a breeze. At least until this point we were in control of the process and timelines we more predictable. Now all we can do is wait for "The Call."
While all this excitement is happening with our adoption process, the Christmas season is now fully upon us, and our family will be celebrating early this year. We are holding our festivities this Saturday, while my brother is on leave. He will be deploying before Christmas, so we are making the most of the time we have together now. My dad and brother both flew into town this week and will be leaving on Sunday. Preparing for another loved one to deploy is such a scary and difficult thing. There's really no way to describe the emotions that seem to wash over you... pride, fear, sadness, frustration, etc. Knowing how to best support and encourage the individual deploying is also a challenge. Leaving at this time of the year, a time which is normally full of fun, food, gifts, and family; it seems to make it all the more stressful.
In the midst of all the excitement of our early holiday celebrations, Joe is dealing with an excruciating shoulder injury... and is in a shoulder immobilizer. He needs to follow up with an Orthopedist next week to see if a more dramatic step needs to be taken. His shoulder became an issue just as I finally began to get over a bad case of strep throat and a difficult recovery with my right tonsil. My tonsils have never handled strep throat well, and this time was no exception. I ended up having to take Prednisone, a steroid, to help the swelling go down. Now that I'm feeling better, I'm told to consider going to an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) doctor to see what they think about having my tonsils removed once and for all. Ugh. Plus, my dentist now says my wisdom teeth need to come out... more fun!
The worst of the health issues in the household have been related to our lovely little princess, Chloe. Chloe began having issues going down the stairs, and went through a two week diagnosis process as her symptoms continued to increase in severity and number. She began displaying neurological symptoms, and hung like a wet noodle in your arm. By the time a neurologist saw her, she was almost completely non-responsive to us and her feet on the right side of her body were "knuckling" which means that she would stand on the top of her feet... at least if you held her up in a standing position; she couldn't stand on her own. A brain MRI showed that her cerebellum was swelling and moving down through the foranum magnum (opening from the brain into the spinal canal). She was near death and the cause was unknown. It could be lymphoma, meningitis, encephalitis, or some other scary thing in a list of bad news diagnosis possibilities. They collected spinal fluid from the base of her brain, and it came back with scary results. Her white blood cell counts should have been between 0-10 and it was 1500. She had a very high count of lymphocyte cells... possibly pointing to lymphoma which would be terminal.
We don't know conclusively, but it is now believed that Chloe developed a viral meningitis. She has been on Prednisone (steroids) since diagnosed, and within the first week the improvement was incredible. She now appears close to normal, but still suffers some mild balance issues and is a bit more depressed, dependent, and clingy than before. We are slowly reducing her doses of Prednisone, a month at a time. She may have to be on the Prednisone for life. That wouldn't be so bad if it didn't have so many other unpleasant side effects (which I can speak to personally since I've been on the SAME medication lately!). It causes serious restlessness (generally very late night/early EARLY morning), increased hunger, excessive drinking, a bloated, swollen belly, and so on. Not fun.
Ok, so that's the yuck health news we've had, but we've been fortunate that Chloe has made it and Joe and I are obviously doing great... despite a few annoyances like strep and shoulder injuries. Sometimes it takes some sort of injury or illness to really make you appreciate your health. Therefore, I feel so fortunate that we've had a little reminder of how lucky we really are!
Enough rambling for this post! I hope I've covered the major events in enough detail to satisfy you and not bored you with too many trivial details!