Nestling bird

August 20th, 2011

The days quickly fell into a pattern~

Up, shower, dress, breakfast brought to room (since the hotel restaurant is not wheelchair-accessible), pump and eat.

Meet our attorney and her brother in the hotel lobby at quarter to ten, and head over to the orphanage for an hour and a half.

My attorney waits for us outdoors.  Her brother accompanies me to Katerina’s floor, where I retrieve her from her bed, change her diaper and clothes if necessary, and gently carry her outside to sit with our attorney.

We visit quietly for just under an hour and a half, with our attorney as photographer.  (Didn’t she do a marvelous job?)

Take tiny one back up to her bed.

Lunch and conversation (at the outdoor cafe closest to the hotel, for our attorney’s sake).

Pump, try to catch up with photographs, emails, blog, Skype with Joe before he leaves for work.

Meet our attorney at quarter to four, head to orphanage.

Visit quietly outdoors with a cranky Katie until five, then take her back to her floor to give her a bottle, clean her up, and put her back into her bed.  [I did not attempt to ask about bringing my milk in to the orphanage to feed her for several reasons.  The main consideration is that we are waiting to hear from the international adoption clinic what they recommend about adding nutrition before she actually reaches a hospital in the States.  We have to avoid the very real possibility of re-feeding syndrome, which causes death if it is left untreated.  For this reason, we might not not be having Katie’s baba give her formula as I had mentioned earlier.]

Supper and conversation at the same cafe, then pumping, more computer work, Skyping with the children, pumping.

The visits speed by faster with each day that passes.


Tuesday morning

Our attorney took these pictures right after we said “Ciao” to her baba.

I discovered that Katie likes to make a kiss sound, and giggles and giggles when I make it back to her.

She watches my mouth intently when I say, “Ma-ma.  Ma-ma.”


Tuesday afternoon

I start every visit by approaching her in her bed and leaning down to talk with her a little, telling her, “[Her birth name], it is mama.”  I am giving her the opportunity to respond, and wait for her to give me “permission” to pick her up, rather than swooping in and scooping her up.

Her face always has the dried crust around her mouth from her previous meal.  In her hair is dried…food?  Spit-up?  Her eyes are always goopy.

She is always unsettled by being held, moved, or touched.  I help her to calm back down and relax after being moved by sitting still and speaking softly before progressing to the next step.

Katie was a very brave girl today.  Look how she is tolerating this position.

She made eye contact, very briefly and delicately.

She listened, she looked.  The safer she felt, the more she ventured to meet my eyes.

And a few times, she reached out her hands…

…to very briefly, very delicately touch my face.  Her hands feel like a mere breath of air.


Wednesday morning

Today I only had a limited time with her, since I had received permission to see the little children who were being adopted by my friends, and went to see them first.

Then my camera went to work on another mission, so there are no photos of my visit with Katerina.

But today she brought great joy to my heart by smiling at me when I first went in to see her and leaned over her crib.  She did not cry at all as I took her outside, until the orphanage caregiver joined us for our trip to the portrait studio and began to fuss with her and talk with her.  She made it perfectly clear that she did not approve of the car ride.  She refused to be soothed during the entire process.

The only picture taken of her this morning was her visa photo.  What a surreal experience to ride through the city in the back seat with a uniformed orphanage caregiver, walk through the crowded city streets holding my wailing, stick-thin child in her orphanage pajamas, watch as her photo was taken in a modern portrait studio, surrounded by photos of beautiful, polished people.

She was worn out after this trip, and the end of the visit came quickly.


Wednesday afternoon

Today I found these pretty clothes in the drawer, and dressed Katerina up like a little pink dolly.

After taking her outside, she gradually relaxed and grew calm.

Everything about her is delicate except for her breath.

I know how to make you laugh, baby!  *smooch, smooch*

Mama loves you…

…precious girl…


Thursday morning

My camera is still working on another mission, so again, no photos from this visit.  It was a good one, as all the morning visits were, except for the visa photo morning.  She is fresh and cheerful and more willing to tolerate me.

The time is too short.  Despite how it may appear from the photos, she has not connected with me this week.  She has simply begun to relax with me and take pleasure in being with me.  Toward the end of the week, I thought about trying to put her in the sling, but even by the last day, she was not ready.

As I laid her in her bed at the end of this visit, a wall of grief hit me as I realized that I only had two more visits with her.


Thursday afternoon

Our attorney shot some more photos of Katie that show her condition underneath her clothes, wearing only a diaper.  These are being used to help expedite Katie’s adoption.

To help her calm down afterward, I sang one song after another.  Next trip, I will bring my Trinity hymnal.

Unbeknownst to me, our attorney shot some video of our little song session, but that will have to wait for home, time, and Joseph.

“Shoo, shoo, go away, evil flies…”

That she smiles is a miracle.


Friday morning

My camera was again elsewhere doing the will of God for other children, so I have no pictures of my leave-taking.  But I am more grateful than I can express for nearly two hours of private, uninterrupted time with her.

I gingerly tried out a nickname with a little chuckle.  The caregiver had told us that she didn’t have a nickname.


She listened, and responded with her own chuckle.

Speaking Scripture over her.

Let the little VeroniKatie come to me, and do not forbid her, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven…

Praying over her.

Trying with all my might to keep my throat open and hold my voice and smile steady as I sing to her…

Katie’s song…

“Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.”

…and lay her back in her bed…

…back into Jesus’ strong arms…

…and walk away.

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41 Responses to “Nestling bird”

  1. Kendra says:

    Katie is beautiful. Thank you Susanna for your post. Praying for your safe trip home.

  2. Becky K. says:

    If you can believe it we are planning to sing that song for the very first time on Sunday.  Thomas and Veronica are being baptized and that is the song their mom requested.  Isn’t God amazing.  I could hear the tune as I read it because I just learned the song Thursday Evening.  Hmmmm……..
    Praise God for His presence with you over this past week.  Praying for your safe return. 

  3. Ilisa says:

    Tears!  I agree.  I kept thinking about her and her smile and how amazing it is she does it at all!  She knows how much you love her.  I cannot wait to see her home!!  

  4. Each time I come to the computer, I am so eager to read your updates.  You guys have been so heavy on my heart.  Katie is BEAUTIFUL!  It’s amazing how the photos of her little personality have changed over the week.  Her smile is incredible.  God is so good.  He is using you as a mighty vessel right now.  Thank you!

  5. dawn says:

    Her smile is absolutely breathtaking. My tears and prayers are with you. Praying that God keeps her safe while you wait. What a precious child.

  6. Kelli says:

    I am so happy to see that that she is relaxing with you and smiling at you! She feels your love! Gentle hugs for your little one and all of the others…

  7. Deanna Rabe says:

    She is beautiful…her smile precious!
    Praying still….God knows what is needed, I just pray.

  8. Katie’s smile is breathtaking!!!  I can only attempt to imagine your pain of leaving her.  I feel like I only know about .0000001 % of your pain through leaving our Annalise behind. 

  9. Brenna says:

    Good work, Mama. I know there is still much to do, but you began a good work with your precious little Katie during your time together. We are hoping and praying and believing with you for her speedy homecoming into your loving family. She is beautiful.

  10. ((((Susanna))))
    Praying you have a safe flight home.  praying for Katie as welll and I pray the door will be opened for her to come home as soon as is possible.  May the Lord keep His preotecting hand over her and the other precious needy children there.  She has a beautiful smile and I can’t wait to see her blossom and grow once she is in your care.
    (((hugs)))  praying for all!!

  11. jeanne says:

    We continue to pray.  God is faithful he has begun a great work in you and your family.  Katie looks at you with the eyes of a child looking at their ma-ma.  She knows you, she knows your heart.  Just as the father knows you and your heart.  Praying that as you reunite with your other children God will fill you with more joy than you can contain.  Blessings to you and Joe and all 11 of your children.

  12. Stephanie says:

    She is a miracle. That’s she can smile and trust anymore is a testament to her spirit. May God keep her safely until you can return.

  13. Susan says:

    Thank you for the updates and pictures of Katie – she is a beautiful little girl. Her hymn always brings tears to my eyes…to me, it is the anthem of the waiting children around the world.

    “VeroniKatie”, Liliana, and the other children in their orphanage will be lifted up by the loving and fervent prayers of so many while they wait for their families, thanks to your having become the Light-bearer for them. Thank you so, so much.

    Safe travels…and a quick return.

    Susan in Ky
    Cousin to 2 from U.        

  14. Carol says:

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your time with Katie. Her smile is incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing your camera and your time. Praying for God’s strength as you leave Katie’s country soon and go even further away. It must hurt so much. May the days go quickly until you can return to bring her home.

  15. Susan says:

    Following your time has been a honor. My thoughts and prayers are for you and the family as you pray for her waiting to bring her home. BUT my heart is with your precious little girl as you will not be there and can’t explain where you are going. I have prayed for God to send angels to comfort and protect her. Exodus 23:20 is my verse for her right now. Blessings!

  16. Ruby McGill says:

    Surely you have been touched by God’s hand this week – as has Katie.  God is using you in a powerful way in the lives of these forgotten children.  I pray that they may ALL soon be safely in the arms of a loving family.  I will continue to pray and financially support those seeking to bring these children home, as I am able.  

  17. Amy Lucas says:

    Your little Katie is precious. I am praying for your adoption process to go quickly and for God to hold Katie in his loving arms until you come back to get her.

  18. Libby says:

    Katie is beautiful.  I have no doubt that she is going to thrive in your family, surrounded by so much love and protection.  She has a fighting spirit, just like her mama.  As I read this post Charlie crawled up onto my lap, mesmerized by the pictures of Katie.  He looked up at me and said baby?  He then proceeded to blow sweet Katie bird kisses.  From all corners of this earth to the heavens above, your sweet daughter is loved. 

  19. Christie says:

    Susanna…what a blessed child she is to know you and your touch. Praying for you and Katie bird so sweet.

  20. Heather McFarland says:

    Continued prayers of protection, strength and love.  So glad we serve a Living God! 

  21. Cole says:

    What a gift your Katie is to you and you to her. We’re with you on this journey of the heart and mind. Forever changed.

  22. Jami Fergie says:

    I love the pictures of her smiling at you. That smile is because of you. She loves you. You can see it. What a wonderful journey. What a beautiful little girl. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for acting on your broken heart as I wish and hope I can some day. Thank you. Thank you.

  23. LORA says:

    She is beautiful. I love her smile. Praying for her and for your family every day.

  24. Andrea says:

    I cannot believe this is the same child that was smiling at you that we first saw was so reluctant to be held. The transformation in under a week is breath taking and awe inspiring. The power of a loving touch especially from a mother’s heart full of love is so transformative even to a little girl bereft of this all her life. Oh, her smile. I smiled broadly seeing tat after reading posts with my eyes filling up.
    You are a truly, truly, special woman in my eyes. Your compassion, empathy and most of all your mother’s heart and faith in God in truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing this journey.

  25. Marilyn Osborn says:

    I see her future in her eyes as she is in your arms!  So precious!  I’m praying for your mama’s heart.  Praying for her health and her quick release to you!  Praying for continued miracles!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Marci says:

    Katie is gorgeous and she looks better since you first arrived! I am praying with everyone for God’s will to be carried out swiftly! Thank you for agreeing to blog back when you found out about Verity’s condition before her birth. You obeyed and look what has happened! 

  27. Shannon says:

    Sending big hugs and lots of prayers for the children in the orphanage, Katie, and your family. Thank you for bringing awareness, kindness, and love to these beautiful children. Safe travels. Looking forward to the day you bring her home!

  28. connie robertson says:

    Checking your blog tonight as my healthy 3 year old granddaughter walked passed looking at the screen  saying “Hey  that’s a pretty baby” 
         Your Katie is beautiful.   

  29. Joy says:

    Thank you for doing such a wonderful job of keeping us updated, not only with words but PICS!! She is absolutely precious, so unbelievably frail and tiny – and I am praying that The Heavenly Father of whom you sing to her wills her homecoming to be very, very, very soon (very!!!). It is so precious that you sing to her – honestly, that has to be such a blessing to her, having never been loved or held or sung to. Must have been like visits from an angel having you there.


  30. Jessi says:

    I pray that somehow God will do the impossible, and you will not have to leave her behind and go home without her.
    I also pray for God’s hand on your attorney, for her peace and perseverance.

  31. Ginger says:

    Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, what a precious gift of God! This post was so so sweet to read. What a treasure those pictures are! 
    Continuing to pray for your faith to be strengthened and God’s name to be glorified in all of this. I am so excited to see all that he has planned!

    And I bet you sing that sweet song much more beautifully than the video you linked! hehe 

  32. Brigette says:

    Praying for your sweet baby Susanna! Praying for your safe return! Thank you for sharing! God is moving through you sharing your journey! What a example of Jesus here on earth! Look forward to seeing you next Sunday at church! Bless you! Brigette

  33. alice says:

    I have read this post 4 times and cry every time–from both the beauty and the pain. Surely this is the Kingdom of God on earth! ((((Susanna)))))

  34. patti says:

    I don’t need to tell you this, Susanna- but Katie is just beautiful. My heart melts every time I see her smile- she is so sweet, and I can’t imagine being on the receiving end of that smile. I keep thinking of her as a baby, and then all of the sudden it hits me that she is 9. I cannot wait til you have her home and we all get to watch the transformation that takes place. Praying for miracles for that trip to be sooner than anyone predicted. Lots of love to you and all of your family from the Rice’s.

  35. Elizabeth DeHority says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience… Our family non-profit wants to do whatever it takes to provide nutritional support for your daughter’s orphanage. When you are back settled, please email me if you have time at . Thanks.

  36. Oh Susanna!  It has been awhile since I checked your blog – I am so happy for you to finally be at this stage of your journey!!  What a sweet, sweet, little girl.  I love all the photos and your descriptions of her delicate little self.  God bless you, bless you, bless you!

  37. sabrina says:

    Beautiful. Katie…Katie’s Mama…so beautiful!

  38. Shari~hotfudgecustard says:

    God’s hand is on her.  That smile is the evidence of His sustaining power in her life.  I’m praying for an expedited process for her to come home to you.  (((Hugs!)))

  39. Jane says:

    With love I follow your journey and I send my prayers to God that each and every obstacle be lessened and lifted and eliminated.
    Katie is indeed a beautiful bird.  So is her mommy, and her daddy and her 10 siblings.
    My family is an interfaith one, and I love the hebrew blessing that we received from the rabbi at our wedding:
    May God Bless You and Keep You
    May God Shine His Countenance Upon You
    May God Grant You Peace.
    Praying for you and thanking you for bringing light into this world and bringing Katie into my life via this blog! 
    (a mom in Los Angeles)

  40. Charrissa says:

    Stumbled upon your blog a week ago. Praying that your daughter is sustained as you seek to bring her home. We brought home two children from Ukraine in December 2010. Now we have 8 children, three with Ds and are expecting #9. :) Not always easy, but the best things in life worth anything rarely is easy.

  41. Mary Feigum says:

    I have just loved reading your blog this last few weeks. She is so beautiful. How hard to leave her there. The Lord has brought her this far and he has sustained her in those circumstances and still allowed her to smile. He will be faithful to complete this. I was wondering if you could please post what it suggested for adding nutrition when you get a reply also do you have a plan (since she gets unsettled so easily) for getting her home on the plane ride? I am going to be sure to pray for you feverently during that time. I wish I had some suggestions to offer your. Perhaps some other readers do. I would also be curious to hear what they would be. surly others have had a simular situation in their adoptions. Your sister in christ Mary

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