Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My husband and I drove to Chicago. We are celebrating great friends who are willing to take some of our children for the weekend and wonderful grandparents who are willing to take the rest. Oh, and we are celebrating 20 years of marriage.

On the way to Chicago, I found a few things particularly fascinating:

  1. I can have a complete thought.
  2. Joel and I can have a complete conversation.
  3. We need to order only a small pizza for supper.
  4. The Wall Street Journal has a sense of humor even if they don’t know it. Here’s the quote I read today about France and their new law against wearing burqas:

“ It forbids concealing the face in public--with exceptions for motorcycle riders, surgeons, individuals wearing carnival or Santa Claus costumes, riot police, metal welders and others.” WSJ; July 14, 2010

For our 25th anniversary I am going to France dressed either as a metal welder or Santa Claus. Not sure just yet.

Enough Incompetence to Go Around

The International Adoption Clinic gave each of the girls a TB mantle. 2 days later I was supposed to go to my clinic, have someone look at the spot, measure it and fax it back. The nurse I got, at 8:30 am, looked all of about 13 years old. She took all of 7 seconds to inaccurately measure the bumps on the girls’ arms.

“They both have TB,” she announced authoritatively. “Are your other kids coughing yet?”

“No. And I need to see the doctor right now.”

“Really?” she wonders. “Are you on the schedule?”

“No, I’m not on the schedule. I need him to know what is going on.”

“Well..... I’ll see what I can do.”

I took iPhone pictures of the girls’ arms. I emailed them to my friend Beth. I called her no fewer than 3 times. I marched everyone upstairs and told the receptionist my story. I saw the doctor. He remeasured. Lizzie’s measurement is half of what the 13 year old nurse measured. Sadie’s is a bit higher but not by much. He amended the form and faxed it in.

I called Beth to tell her about getting a doctor . “You did the right thing,” she says, not knowing I’d crafted a Voodoo Doll Nurse that I planned to cough on.


Ethiopian daughters who were formerly Ethiopian orphans need to be taken to the doctor. Daughters who have smelly ear drainage need to be taken to an ear doctor. A daughter who, according to the ear doctor, “might have latent TB in her ear,” needs to be taken to the International Adoption Clinic.

We have just the place at the University of Minnesota. I found myself finally in very capable hands, particularly when I met Beth, an RN and my new best friend. Trent, the travel agent from Velocity Tours who made the trip to Ethiopia possible, has been replaced. Beth makes being home from Ethiopia with two daughters possible. She told me, as I tried to relate my long story of woe from one failed doctor visit after the other, that she would “be there for me all afternoon.” I burst into tears.

I made my clinic appointment. The appointment person was not Beth. It was Someone Who Needed to Follow The Rules Rather Than Think. Our conversation went like this:

Me: I need to make an appointment for two girls.

Her: We don’t make appointments back to back.

Why not?

Because one appointment takes a long time.

Ok. I’ll start with the sickest one. Her name is Elizabeth.

How old is she?

I think around 3.

What language does she speak?

Ummmmmm. Nothing really.

Well, the doctors want us to have a translator there.

That’s great, but I don’t know what they would translate.

(slight detection of exasperation on her end...) What language did she speak in her country?

They spoke Amharic at the orphanage but she didn’t.

I need a language, mam.

Ok, Amharic.

Where is your daughter from?


How do you spell Ethiopia?

At this point, I couldn’t spell it. Gone was my confidence. Gone was my “I’m finally in good hands” feeling. I finished this most painful conversation and called my new friend Beth. Again.

Hi Beth, It’s Marty... I made an appointment.

Oh good!

Well, I have a couple things that went wrong. First, they won’t let me schedule both girls.

Call them. Tell them Beth says she wants them both here.

Thank you. Also, the girl asked me how to spell Ethiopia.

Oh..... ok. I’ll deal with that. Anything else?

Yes, one more thing. They insisted that I have a translator.

OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!! Ok. Yes. I just...yes, I just cancelled the translator. Anything else?

No. That’s it. Thank you.

It was a long visit. It was a thorough visit. It was a good visit. They knew the girls’ history before I got there. They knew what to look for and what to tell me to do and what to do to undo what hasn’t been done or done incorrectly. Beth and Dr. Kang. Great people. Phone lady? Didn’t have to meet her. That’s also good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Coming

I have two to three blogs just waiting to come to life. The problem is I have seven children who seem to come to life just as I'm settling in to write.

Thanks for checking in.

Coming soon:

Incompetence; more incompetence, and one great nurse.

Intriguing Wisconsin signs, pictures included.

Coming now:

Lizzie's really cute face.
Sadie's really cute hand.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating America

I dressed the toddlers and the baby in red, white and blue. We ate hamburgers and hotdogs. We watched the fireworks. But the best part of this week was watching something I had never seen before: people becoming American citizens.

A good friend of Joel and mine from high school married a woman from Russia. He posted on Facebook that she was going to take the oath of American Citizenship, and he invited anyone who was interested to come.

Sounded like the perfect social studies field trip to me.

I loaded everyone who wasn't throwing up (left one at home) into the truck. We stopped at Brueggers just in case this turned out to be like law school graduation: really, really long. We used the bathroom, got a drink of water, had a bottle ready. Good to go for.....probably an hour.

There were 90 countries represented. All the countries were read while the people from each country stood up. We sang the Star Spangled Banner. We said the Pledge of Allegiance. The new citizens repeated the oath of citizenship. The judge welcomed and congratulated them on their long journeys. I kept thinking, "And NOW they will read (and butcher) the names of each of the 770 people." But they didn't.

Next, there was a slide show set to the song, "Proud to be an American." "Oh great," I thought. "Now we'll see slide after slide of white children on merry go rounds." But we didn't. Instead, there were pictures of very few white people. "Proud to be an American" went with a slide of a man wearing a turban. It went with a slide of a little, tiny, very old Asian woman who was crying and waving her American flag. "I won't forget the men who died" went with slides of white caskets being rolled out of airplanes flanked by military personnel.

Our friend's mom stood in front of me. She is single. She was married to an American citizen. He went to Vietnam and never came home.

The whole ceremony lasted for 34 minutes. The toddlers weren't to the end of themselves. I wasn't even close to the end of myself. Our friend's wife finally has her citizenship and, after 11 years, has her last name spelled correctly.