To Sum It All Up
Question: Will Katie ever catch up to other children with Down syndrome of her own age?
During a child’s first three years of life, when the brain is still developing, the kind of nutrition, care and stimulation the child receives is crucial. If a child is deprived for as long as Katerina has been, it would take a miracle for her to ever “catch up” developmentally. Humanly speaking, it is impossible. We are only half-joking when we say that we will give her nine more years to learn to walk and talk. We know that the human brain continues to learn and make connections as long as it is being stimulated properly, so we do not believe it is hopeless, but we also are vividly aware that it may never happen at all.
Just as we did for Verity before she was born, as we look forward to receiving Katie-bird, we prepare as much as possible for the worst, and hope and pray for the best.
Question: So what are you expecting of her?
In the short term, we are prepared for rejection and lots of fussing on her part, difficulties in traveling home with her, curtailed family activity during the initial adjustment period, multiple medical and dental appointments, medical and dental treatments, feeding and sleeping problems that could last indefinitely, and a long, slow, patient process of bonding (both us with her, and her with us), learning to eat, and learning to move.
[I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that I am not going to have trouble bonding with her. Right now I can’t really find the words to tell you why. Maybe someday.
If I am wrong, and have trouble bonding with her, I promise to tell you.
I don’t think that’s going to happen.]
In the long term? At this point, nobody could possibly predict what the outlook is for Katie in the long term. If they did, we would strongly doubt their trustworthiness!
Question: What will your plan of care be for her after you bring her home?
The rough draft of our plan puts her medical care and bonding at top priority, with her developmental needs being addressed after those two are well on their way to being established. We plan to focus initially on her bonding with me (doing all her direct care and “wearing her” in the baby sling carrier), then move outward from there to the rest of the family. We plan to surround her with all the affection we have to give, and that is a lot at our house!
In all this, as we continue to learn the truth, we are determined to openly share it, no matter how hard a truth it turns out to be. The truth will not deter those whom God has called to the work of adopting, giving, praying, and advocating for these little ones. The truth is one of the most powerful weapons we have on our side, the truth about the both the difficulty and the beauty in special-needs adoption.
Last week, when Verity and I visited Doctor Strauss for her one-year well-child exam, he and I were able to talk extensively about Katerina while Verity finished off her bottle and munched on some puffs.
He concluded our conversation by saying, “I think you will be surprised at how quickly she progresses once you get her home and give her the love and nutrition she needs. It will be an adventure!”
We agree! And we can hardly wait to get started!
Speaking of…but that deserves its own post…