Friday, April 25, 2008

Wake Up People! This is 2008, not 1980!

A friend of mine wrote a great post (you can see the original post here), asking everyone to "tell two" people the truth about HIV/AIDS. Frankly, I don't think I can say it better than she did, so I have pasted her post below. =) Please take a moment to read it (all 2 of you!) and consider "telling two" yourself. Something has to be done - it should start with you and me.

"Tell Two"

Today I have heard from several different parents of HIV+ children who are facing negative reactions to their adoptions based on the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV. It is extremely frustrating to me that in 2008 there is still so much unfounded fear caused by a lack of education, that results in nasty, ugly and mean treatment of people who are HIV+ and their families.

The reason people in the U.S. are not educated about HIV is that most people don't care, because most people in this country are not affected by it. People still see it as the problem of homosexuals, drug users and people in Africa. The reality is, HIV/AIDS is everyone's problem. It is a devastating problem in Africa and many countries, but there are many, many Americans living with this disease as well. In fact, new cases of HIV in the U.S. are now being seen in the largest numbers in heterosexual women. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Living with this nasty disease is hard enough, but compounding that with the misguided fear and judgment of society is beyond tragic, and as the mom of two HIV+ children, it is sad and frustrating.

So, if you are one of the many who check in to this blog every day, I am asking you to do me a favor. I want you to tell at least two people about HIV. Spread the word that...

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Help me spread the truth about HIV, and take a tiny stab at the stigma against HIV. Tell your friend when you talk on the phone. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Post it on your blog and ask other people to tell their readers. Ask them to pass it on as well. I would love to see this spread beyond the adoption blogs.

Even if you have no real interest in HIV/AIDS, even if you are not involved in adoption, even if you don't think you know anyone who is HIV+... education and knowledge are always a good thing. It is so easy to say to someone, "hey, guess what I learned today?" and it is even easier to put it on a blog or in an email.




When Did That Happen?

I started back to work on Monday. Of course I have gotten plenty of questions about the kids and their adjustments (some just polite small talk, but others seem interested!). Yesterday I was out to lunch with a couple other associates and was talking about this subject. One thing I mentioned was how interesting our family dynamic has been -

Grace only child for 5 years, but Ally didn't even really rock the boat that much in terms of her privileges and "life". Although they were always great together, 5 years is a lot! Now that we have Abi and Hana, I've noticed they've really "bridged the gap" and all 4 play together great (most of the time), especially outside on the swing set and that sort of thing.

I was reflecting on this conversation later in the afternoon and I realized I had reached the point that having Abi and Hana with us truly felt comfortable and familiar - not long term guests but part of the family as if they had always been. I think it has been this way for awhile now, but I recognize it so actively was a nice feeling. ;) And thinking about what they have both done to draw our family together and make it work ... it's just great. I hadn't ever consciously felt something was "missing" but the two of them seem to have filled a hole that I didn't know existed.

I feel like our family unit has really come together these last few weeks. What a comfortable, warm-fuzzy feeling. =) So I said a little thank you and hoped it would be enough.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Job!

No, no, didn't quit working! But I did take on a volunteer position that I'm really excited about!

I've written in the past about AHOPE here and our collection activities here, here and here.

AHOPE for Children is an organization that provides a nurturing home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for orphaned HIV positive children, provides care for HIV positive children in the community through an outreach program, and educates the community about AIDS prevention. Thanks to Dr. Jane Aronson's Worldwide Orphans Foundation, the children at AHOPE are now receiving life-saving antiretroviral drugs and are thriving.

Because AHOPE has a very limited budget for basic items like clothing, diapers, and toys, AHOPE depends on the generosity of individual donors for these things and on traveling adoptive parents and volunteers to help deliver the donations.


When the opportunity arose to fill the position of Supply/Donation Coordinator for AHOPE, I jumped at the chance to help this amazing organization. Basically, I coordinate those that have collected supplies with travelers who have extra luggage space to carry them over to Ethiopia. I've been doing this a few weeks now and already loving it! These kids are so amazingly deserving of the best, and yet there is so much needed. In case you are at all interested:

The current, most pressing needs of AHOPE are:
Anti fungal ointment and shampoo ( we use this for treating ringworm on the children's skin and scalps. This is a very pressing need right now)

Bedding: Twin sheets sets, Pillows, Twin fleece blankets, Twin mattress covers (we hope to replace all the mattresses if/when the funds become available) - (please no heavy bedding as it won't dry during the rainy season)

Digital Scale (the nurse needs this to monitor the children's weight. Ideally we need one that can weigh in kilograms)

Toothpaste (we have plenty of toothbrushes!)

Ensure Powder
Children's Multivitamins
Clothing and sneakers, especially for children ages 8 and up, boys and girls
Underwear for all ages (1-12)
Pajamas for all ages

There are several ways that you can help the children of AHOPE : 1. If you are traveling to Ethiopia, you can collect donations from the needs list and carry them over. Any amount, large or small, is appreciated. 2. If you are traveling and are able to carry donations that others have collected, I will gladly arrange to have items delivered to you. (Please let me know ASAP when you are leaving and where I can direct donations to be sent!) 3. If you are not traveling to Ethiopia and would like to gather donations, please contact me and I will match you with somebody who is traveling and is able to carry your donations to AHOPE. 4. To make a financial donation or to learn more about AHOPE, please see the website: http://www.ahopeforchildren.org
***If you have any questions or are interested in becoming involved, please contact me at ahopesupplies@gmail.com.


Back to Work...

Well, Monday was the big day! I headed back to work after a 6 week hiatus. I was nervous to leave the kids. And I felt a little sorry for Mark. Not that he couldn't handle it (much better than I could!) but I knew it'd be stressful.

Monday was a little rough. It didn't help that Grace was back in school and had track and girl scouts to keep her there late. But I think yesterday went much better. The kids now just give me hugs and kisses in the morning (and otherwise could care less!) but seem happy to see me when I get home. So all in all, it has been going well. I look forward to getting into a "real" routine finally.

Below is a photo from last Monday. Grace had one last day off school so we took the kids to Meijer Gardens. It was a nice visit, although a little chilly. We'll have to go again this weekend and enjoy the nice weather we are getting now! Love the sun!


No Potatoes in Them Ears

Good news on the ear front!

Yesterday we took Abenezer to his follow up appointment. The ear drops actually worked! The perforation appears to have healed itself - so no more drops! And even better - his hearing test showed no hearing loss at all (or very negligible)!

I really thought we'd have a few more months of drops at least to get it cleared up since it's been so bad for so long. When I stopped to think about it, I was sad. He's had this problem for probably a year or so in Ethiopia and there was nothing they could do for him. Just a few weeks here and we were able to clear it up.

Unfair.

But we are very happy! Keep your fingers crossed that ear plugs will be enough to keep the problems gone! =)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bad Blogger!

I just wrote an entire post, updating on the life of the fam, how Abi and Hana are doing, how I"m a bad blogger and why I never post.

Then it was deleted. It must have been more boring than I thought....

Okay, quick and dirty summary:

Kids are all doing great.
I go back to work on Monday.

I'll have to do better later....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Photos from the First 3 Weeks!






At Last


She did it folks - as of 3:59 p.m. today, Grace's first tooth is (finally) out!

Up Pleeez

This is what I see almost every minute of every day... she's trying to crawl UP me. It is hard to ignore. Sometimes she is very cute and sweet saying "Up Peez" and sometimes she is a screaming demon. Sigh.


It isn't fair for the terrible 2s to start at 18 months!

More family photos...

"Hey, lets get all dressed up and Mom can take our picture!"




A few days before, Abi would scream if Claire came close...




First day home...




Ally, having a rough moment...




Ahh, thats better...

Friday, April 4, 2008

A few photos of Addis









Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some songs from the kids...

Abenezer is so cute! Notice the Mexican themed restaurant in the background (remember, we are IN Ethiopia here) (but great food by the way). Also, the kids are downing some delicious orange Fanta here!



Hana is singing a song that she and Abi sing often... we have no idea what its about but its really cute!



And here is Grace! Isn't her hair so cool!


One more!