Wednesday, December 28, 2011


(Because it would just be wrong to have an update without looking at his sweet face! This picture was taken days before we came to the hospital. He LOVES his Pooh and it usually sleeps right by his head at night.)

Noah has had a rough go the past 24 hours. It has been a struggle to get his pain well managed and he has had moments of real agony. That is hard to watch. Keith stayed with him all night and was a really great and tireless advocate for him. A daddy who gives up good coffee and sleep (and yes, in that order) is a real prize and I am so very grateful for him. He looks out for me and my rest and sacrifices his own, love, love him.

It looks like we are finally in a good space with morphine and valium (see what I mean by lots of pain!) and hopefully we can hold him again soon.

The surgeon is optimistic that this surgery will clear up some of the mystery pain Noah has been having for a while. That will be a really fantastic thing, and that is what I focus on right now as we go through the hard part. Good things ahead!!!

(Pooh standing guard and ready for hospital duty!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Successful Surgery.....

(Right before surgery)

We are happy to share that Noah is out of surgery and it was a success!! The surgeon was surprised to find a large blockage at the top of his small intestine, just below his stomach. She estimated that his opening had shrunk to the size of a pin (no wonder nothing was getting through)!  The intestines above the blockage were very distended so we are very grateful that they decided to move forward now. They took out the blocked section and were able to stitch the two sections together. It is probable that he will be eating again in 5-7 days, and then home!! 

We are hopeful that this surgery has resolved some mysterious pain issues that he has been struggling with. His tummy has always been a source of discomfort for him, and it could be that this blockage took a while to build up and was causing his discomfort. That would be a real praise!! 

We are so grateful for all of your prayers! How we love this boy, and can't wait to have him home again!! 

Look out 2012!!


Looks like we are on our way to surgery today. From the x-rays we know that there is some type of obstruction -- what we don't know is exactly where,  if it full or partial, and if there has been any permanent damage to the site of the blockage. It has been explained to us that there is a 50% chance that it is a partial block caused by scar tissue that can be snipped away. In this case, recovery will be pretty quick, about 2-5 days. There is a 40% chance that it will be a complete blockage and that will require them to remove the blocked section (how much will depend on the amount and level of damage) and stitch the ends together. This will be a longer recovery time (up to 2 weeks). There is a 10% chance that they will have to cut away the damaged section and not be able to reconnect. This would require them to place two "stomas" (holes in his tummy) and there will be bags connected to them to catch his waste. It is then a near certainty that in about 8 weeks they will be able to go back in and reconnect it. (Praying that we don't find ourselves in the 10%)

So, much is unknown as they move grateful we are that none of this surprises God and that He will give us all we need no matter the outcome of the surgery.

We are anticipating him going in about 11:30......not sure on the exact time. We will try and keep the blog updated and are so grateful for all of your prayers!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Introducing ....Noah!

No new information today. We still irrigate and wait. Unless he starts to show signs of pain, his stomach begins to enlarge, etc.....we keep on this course. They just don't know the whys.

I realized that many of you have never actually met Noah in person....and that it would be nice to introduce him to you through video. Keith and I had very sweet time with him today. He just laid his head on my chest for the longest time ....content to just rock, eyes open. How I love that!

It is worth putting up with our baby talk voices to hear his sweet talking and laughing!

SO, without further ado.....we bring you Noah:

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2011


......not much happened. We are still waiting for the barium to move out of his colon. The x-ray showed that it hadn't changed a whole lot. They irrigated twice today and we will get a new x-ray in the morning. I saw a nurse that I got to know during our initial seven week stay. She said that during shift change she had heard the word that, "Noah is back. Boy, is he in love with his Mommy." Oh my....melt my heart! I assured her that the feeling is mutual. How God does this amazes me....knits our hearts.

So, I struggle with the waiting....with the leaving my kids at home......and really with leaving my baby every night. Praying for wisdom for the doctors and God's hand to touch Noah and bring him home!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This was the face that met me today when I got to the hospital....

And this is what I got to do....

Now that his IV line is in his arm I can cuddle with him better -- and we both love that!! What a great gift!

The plan for today was to get an x-ray to see if the barium was all gone from the test on Tuesday. Since his bowels aren't moving, there was a large amount left and so they tried to irrigate it and flush it out. It is pretty thick and so this will not be a one shot process. They will come in later today and irrigate again and take another x-ray in the morning to see where we are. As soon as the barium is gone we can move on to the small intestine and see if there is a blockage there.

This is a real puzzle because it looks like there is either a partial or complete blockage, but he isn't acting like a baby whose intestines are blocked. He is happy, content, and in no pain. If there were a blockage he should be looking like a sick baby. So, the doctors are just getting one piece of information at a time and trying to build an accurate picture of what is going on in his belly. If there is a partial blockage, it may clear itself, or it may require surgery. If there is a complete blockage then it will be surgery for sure. We would love to avoid that!

On an interesting note, we had two GI doctors in our room to look at him yesterday. One of them was named Dr. Farrell, and I thought that was interesting since one of the pieces of equipment we use on Noah's GI tube is called a Farrell bag. Keith asked about it and he is THAT Dr. Farrell. Not only that, but he is the Chief of Staff for all of Cincinnati Children's. You would never know it to meet him, his demeanor was very unassuming and he is very approachable. Grateful that we have such knowledgeable doctors on Noah's case!

I brought this boy with me today.....

Several months ago he was unsure about the whole big brother gig. Who can blame him -- being the baby is a pretty great spot to be in! What a difference a few months can make! He came to me last night sobbing because he was missing his baby brother. What a sweet heart this little guy has! How I love him!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home 4 Christmas?

"Will Noah be home for Christmas?" is a common question around our house right now. "We don't know," is the familiar, and frustrating answer. Our sweet baby is still in the hospital, and we really don't have the answers yet to explain why we are here. It started as dehydration from vomiting, which came on suddenly on Friday night. Now we are trying to figure out why his bowels aren't moving gas or any of the other things they should be moving (OK, I guess there is just ONE other thing).

What we are learning about him is that his extreme prematurity, and subsequent long hospitalization, make everything more complicated. His tiny veins have been used so many times for IVs, etc, that they just don't work that well for access anymore. It is extremely difficult to get an IV in him, and once he was dehydrated it became impossible. They had to go right in the bone on his leg.....we hadn't ever heard of that before (and weren't real thrilled to hear about it at all). It saved his life because he was really starting to take a turn for the worst quickly. The ER doc said he wasn't worried when we came in, but two hours later they were all very worried. Poor guy was so lethargic that he didn't even cry through all of it, but his heartrate told the tale when it was beating at over 200 times per minute. It HURT!!

By God's wisdom and grace we are at one of the top 3 children's hospitals in the country, and they are actually ranked #1 for gastric issues, so we are hopeful that the real cause will be found soon. He is no longer in pain, but he is unable to eat until we figure out why things aren't moving through his system. Everything he is getting now is through the special line that they put into his inner arm.

They ruled out an obstruction in his colon and now we wait for the barium to all be gone from that study and move on to an upper GI to make sure there isn't a blockage in the small intestine. This could be tomorrow, or the next day. An x-ray in the morning will tell us if the barium is all gone. His medical records from Florida paint a very incomplete picture of his first 8 months of life, so it is like starting from scratch in many regards.

So, it is highly unlikely that he will spend his first Christmas as a Williams at home. We are sad, but hopeful that this will be good in the long run and give us some answers about what is going on in that belly of his.

We appreciate your prayers -- they encourage and strengthen us to keep advocating for our boy -- anyone who has had a child in the hospital knows that this can be a very draining experience. Our love for him only grows deeper, and we are so grateful that God has allowed us on this journey with Noah.

Blessings to you all this Christmas!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of Frogs, Playing Cards, and Ponytails

Day three with our Lilly is coming to a close and we continue to fall more in love with her by the minute! She loves both to laugh and make us laugh. She has shown us so many endearing behaviors that are evidence of how seamlessly she will fit in to our crazy family!

For months before the trip I spent so much time trying to figure out what type of toys to bring for her to play with. I really had no idea what she liked so I just tried to hit the major play groups. I knew we would spend most of the week in the hotel room and I wanted her to have things to do. So, three days in we have a winner...........

Yes, it is a pack of playing cards and a green frog bath toy! She carries the cards with her everywhere -- even sleeps with them near her. We have had to put a Strawberry Shortcake bandaid on them to keep them closed because she doesn't want the cards to fall out, she just wants to hold the box. We have developed a game we play regularly. She sits at one end of the bed and I sit at the other and she uses the deck of cards as a paddle and hits the frog to me. I catch it (most of the time) and then he hops and ribbits back to her. Over and over and over........ :) The rest of the toys sit in the suitcase. I believe this falls under the universal, "Why did we buy her Christmas presents when all she wants to play with is the box?" parental reality. It is wonderful to be discovering her and what she likes and doesn't like.

There is one phenomenon that I am experiencing with her that is new to my parenting experience. She actually likes to have her hair washed! She asked me to wash it for her today in the bath -- twice! Amazing! She LOVES to wear jewelry, have her nails painted and her hair in a ponytail. It is so cute -- she knows how to use her hands to tighten her ponytail. She is a real beauty, but at the same time she is also rough and tumble. She loves to climb, jump, and get on the floor and play.

She also is a great eater and we have enjoyed our time in the hotel restaurant. The food here is really delicious and Delaney and I are having fun trying new things.

Tomorrow is a big day for us -- a medical appointment for Lilly, which is a requirement for us before we leave, and our visit to the US Embassy to do some paperwork. Friday we get our passport and immigration paperwork delivered and then Saturday we head home EARLY in the morning. We are so excited to get her home to meet the rest of her family!

Monday, July 18, 2011

We Have Our Girl!

Greetings from Sofia, Bulgaria!!

We are grateful to report that sleeping on our couch tonight is one Lilly Caroline Williams! Before I get into the joy that has been today I want to back up a bit. We are SO grateful to God that we easily made every one of our connections! We had great seat mates each leg of the trip, and short of a bit of turbulence landing in Sofia, the trip was as smooth as could be!

Can you tell which one of these pictures was taken at the beginning of our journey and which one was taken close to the end?? Just look at the "older" woman who apparently doesn't travel as well as the young chick! Boy, I felt about as good as I looked! On our first trip to Bulgaria my sleep suffered. I am SO grateful that God blessed me with fantastic sleep last night! I got a full 8+ hours and it made a world of difference!!

We headed out at 7:00am and were at the orphanage by about 8:45. We visited with the director for a bit and it was so clear that they love her very much. She said several times how much they will miss her, but they are so glad she has a forever family. Then the moment we have been longing for -- in she walked! They had dressed her up and fixed her hair and it was adorable!

It was clear as we made our way to the car that many had a hard time saying goodbye to her. One sweet little boy was sobbing! They did an excellent job of preparing her for this change, and she had her brave face on. She did so well! She clung to my arm and there was a real storm of emotion moving across her face. All of the things she was seeing were new to her on this car ride. She has ridden in a car maybe once or twice in her life. She did so well! I had prepared myself for the worst and was, once again, blown away and my expectations superseded!

We came back to the hotel, and after lunch we got right down to business! I was holding her and she pointed to my painted toenails and then to her toes and the fun began! She is certainly a girly girl! She changed her clothes three times today -- picking out her own outfits! So far language has not been a barrier. She very easily communicates with us and is very gentle and sweet. She had what seemed to be her first bath. It was a real treat to be able to share that with her and watch her wonder at the bubbles and sitting in the water. It was wonderful! We have had a fantastic first day together. We have been blessed beyond measure and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!!

So grateful for your prayers, love, and support!!!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

We Are Home

We are home!

I am sure that by now it has become apparent that trying to follow our process through our blog was NOT a very satisfying experience!! My intentions were to really allow family and friends to walk with us during our time in Bulgaria. It became clear on day one at Bojidar's orphanage that this was not going to be the trip we had expected. The time I had imagined using to update the blog was filled with processing, talking with Keith, praying, and resting because my mind really struggled to slow down enough at night to let me sleep.

As much as I tried to walk into this without expectation, it is impossible to not have SOME idea of how you think things will go. We also know that the reports we read on the children before we visit are sketchy at best, misleading at worst. One of our priorities in screening the files was that the child not be aggressive. We knew that there would be what are called "orphanage behaviors" that would be present to some degree in any chid, and that is something that you have to accept to walk through this process. It only makes sense that to start life in an institution vs. a loving family leaves children broken and hurting. What we saw in Boji went beyond that. His method of communicating is to lash out. We both were hit, bitten, etc. We also sat in on some of his therapy time and he drew blood from one of his therapists by head butting her. His need to be redirected (which brings out the aggression) is almost constant while he is awake. He will need a level of one on one time (for years) that we just are not in a position to give him. We were able to contact the International Adoption Clinic near our house (one of the reasons we chose to move to this area) and they mobilized quickly to speak with us, review video and photos and give us their long distance assessment. They agreed that there are several thing at play here for Boji, beyond his down's syndrome, and that he will require much individual attention -- to keep him and others safe. That was heartbreaking. SO unexpected and SO not what his file described.

We continued to spend our scheduled time with him for the rest of the week, even though Keith had heard a clear "no" from God by Tuesday evening. I had to work through some of my fear, people pleasing, etc and we knew God had brought us there for a reason and didn't want to miss what He was doing. By the end of the week I had come to a place where if God had asked me to do this hard thing my heart was in a place to say "yes", but at the same time it was clear that He was releasing us from moving forward with Boji. HARD!

On Monday we had another big surprise in store. We traveled to Lukovit to meet Lillia. We were expecting a little girl with big needs. Her diagnosis was spina bifida and hydrocephalus. We were anticipating wheelchair and possible low level of function. To our (again) GREAT surprise in WALKED this adorable, sweet, gentle, bright and beautiful little girl! We were blown away!! She is affectionate, giggly, girly, cuddly....I could go on! She does wear orthopedic shoes, but she can walk, run, and participate in any activity. The shoes do help her walk but her caregivers said they were glad she was coming to America because here she can get the therapy and care she needs to someday walk without them.

One of the things I noticed right away was that she looked a lot like me in my little girl pictures. Her hair is exactly like mine was (color/texture) at her age, and she has huge eyes and LONG eyelashes! Other workers commented on how much she looked like me! The whole thing left us speechless. We know she will have her own adjustment issues, but we can't wait to get her home and love on her!!!

Thank you so much for caring about us, and being interested in our new journey!! We continue to appreciate your prayers and love you all very much!! We will, Lord willing, head back to pick her up in 3-4 months. We can't wait for you all to meet her!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 3 in Plovdiv

Well, I have not been blogging nearly as much as I thought I would! This has been an overwhelming experience in many ways -- in some we have been pleasantly surprised and in others heartbroken. It has left us needing to spend a lot of time processing and talking about what we are experiencing, and not a lot of time for blogging.

We are adjusting to the cultural differences and really beginning to enjoy the area and the people. It is fascinating to hear a different language -- one so completely different than English. I did hear Huey Lewis playing in McDonalds last night while Discovery channel played on the TV in the background, so there are some familiar things! We are enjoying the Bulgarian food, but last night the restaurant in our hotel was closed so we had to go out for something quick.

We have had a couple of big surprises in our time with Bojidar that will bring some changes in how we move forward from here. I will write about that more later. Right now I am exhausted from very little sleep last night so pictures and a more thorough update later! Your prayers are appreciated as we continue on this journey!

More soon......

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 2 - Arrive in Plovdiv

Tired and overstimulated is the best way to describe how we have started our trip. We left our home at noon on Saturday and traveled for 15-16 hours with at most an hour sleep along the way. We arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria at 1:00 pm where we meet Toni and her brother Marty who take us to the hotel. We try our best to stay awake until evening, so that we can adjust to our new timezone. We order pizza, eat and then go to sleep at about 6:30 pm. Kristin and I both wake up thinking that it had been hours since we fell asleep. It is only 7:53 pm!!

After a few hours we fall back asleep only to wake up at about 2:00 am. We fall asleep at roughly 4 am and wake up to get ready to leave Sofia for Plovdiv at about 6:15 am. That was not exactly the quality sleep that we needed!

I have a whole new respect for Abraham:

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The most foreign destination that Kristin and I have ever been is New York City, and while the peoples of that city may speak strangely and have customs that are difficult to understand. I speak the same language. Now we are in a truly different country, with different customs, mannerisms and language. Listening to conversations, that I can't understand and trying to read the body language of the people is difficult. The people are usually very serious in tone, to an American it almost seems angry. Then at the end of the conversation (or even ordering at McDonalds) the people smile and say ciao. I find it very difficult to understand anything happening around me, and have decided to give up even trying.

Imagine how life must have changed for Abraham. He left a country and a situation of comfort to go where God called him. he didn't just visit there as we have, he moved there to people of strange language and cultures. They worshipped gods, who were not God. Yet Abraham went and prospered. The Bible does not tell us the feelings he experienced, which is why I now have new found appreciation for this patriarch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day One in Sofia

We made it! We did have to take a different flight, but it worked out ok and we arrived in Sofia on time. We were in the Frankfurt airport for about 2 hours. It is amazing how many things you see in English. All announcements on the intercom system are done in German and then English, which was a great relief!

Toni met us at the airport and what a welcome sight!! It is such a blessing to know that she walks with us through this entire process. She is every bit as gracious and kind as we heard she was, and it is easy to see why everyone loves her so much!! She and her brother Marty drove us to our hotel and we are there now trying to stay awake until we can go to bed!! She advised us to not go to sleep until nighttime so that our adjustment will be easier. I think Keith and I slept about one hour each total on all of our flights.

Sofia is the largest city in Bulgaria. Toni said that there are about two and a half million people living here! Tomorrow morning we head out to meet Bojidar. He is in the city of Plovdiv, which is the second largest city in Bulgaria. I can't wait to post pictures tomorrow. For now, here is the view off of our tiny balcony......notice the mountains in the clouds.

It all still seems kind of surreal. We are all the way across the Atlantic Ocean!! Amazing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sitting in the airport.....

......our journey begins with a bit of frustration. Our flight out of Cincinnati has been delayed for 40 min, which means that we will likely not make our connecting flight to Frankfurt. They have switched us to a different flight, which means a different airline, which means we will be sandwiched in between two other people for the eight hour flight to Germany. My frequent flying husband is working to see what he can do about getting us better seating -- and my long legs hope he can manage it!!

It is at these moments God reminds me that our purpose here is not comfort, but a rescue mission. I should not be surprised by any of the discomfort (in my legs, my feelings, my thoughts) that we will encounter along the way.

More to come.......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Today on the farm.......

We worked on our rabbit hutch.....

we rejoiced that the warmer weather allowed us to start our diesel tractor......

we marveled that our Mom still wears a sweatshirt worn by our brother 22+ years ago.......and looks great doing it....

and we thanked God that it was warm enough to be outside without our teeth chattering!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This is why.....

.... we are flying to Bulgaria in two weeks. This is why we are doing something that is uncomfortable, scary, and will change our lives forever. I started reading this blog when she brought her two youngest daughters home from Ukraine. It is TRAGIC what conditions these babies live in! Hailee had sores on the front and back of her head from banging it on her crib for stimulation. They are never held, never comforted, never played with....many are drugged to keep them quiet and sleeping. It is easy to not think about and so hard to forget once you do. She is five years old and weighed 16 pounds when they brought her home. She was a shell. Now look at her!! You can see so much change in these first comparison pictures, but look at the second link!! Oh. My. Word. It fills me with such hope, joy, and courage -- to do the hard thing!! What price can we put on that? How that must make Jesus smile!!

Is it hard? No doubt. Does it cost? Dearly. Is it worth it? I can't wait to find out for myself!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bulgaria here we come!!

I am working on the premise here of "better late than never"!! I wish now that I would have been documenting our lives in much more detail over the past six months or so. So many things happening...surprising, exciting, unexpected, difficult. Words that could be used to describe most adventures.

On February 19th we will be taking one more step on our latest journey. We fly to Washington DC, then Paris, and then on to Sofia, Bulgaria. Nearly 24 hours total travel time. We will be met by our Bulgarian attorney (Toni) on the 20th. She will also act as our translator. We will spend the 21st - 25th in Lukovit meeting B. We will be with him at his orphanage each day for several hours in the morning, and then again in the evening. We will return to Sofia on the 25th for the weekend. On Monday the 28th we head out to Plovdiv to meet L. We will be in Plovdiv until the 2nd when we will return to Sofia. We head home on the 3rd.

One unique aspect of adopting a waiting child (a child with special needs) from Bulgaria is that once we return home, Toni will be our representative in court and the legal process will all take place while we wait here in the US. Once that is completed they will legally be our children and we can go and bring them home! The wait time between trips is usually 3-5 months. We are praying to be able to return to pick them up by the end of July (of course, we hope that the time will be much sooner, but in our initial -- also known as unrealistic planning-- we also thought we would have them home by Christmas......) since the Bulgarian government goes on a summer break from late July to early September. We don't want our process to grind to a halt during that time. We pray and trust that God's timing is perfect, a truth He has shown us over and over!

We have no doubt that we will be changed by this trip. Experiencing the orphanages is something that we are both anxious about -- how we will respond to all that we see. We don't want to remain the same and are eager for God to change our hearts to be more like His. Neither of us have ever traveled internationally, so that will also be something new and different.

So, in only 19 more days we will see these sweet children about which we know so little, but amazingly already love so much.