We’re all settled in back at the hotel now, with one day of rest to look forward to before we embark on our journey home Saturday morning.
We woke at 3:30 am to get ready for our trip to Katie’s city with Team Two–our attorney’s cousin as facilitator, and her uncle as driver.
When we arrived at the orphanage, we were taken directly up to the top floor, Katie’s floor, to wait for her baba to bring her to us. As soon as my eyes met the baba’s eyes, and we both began to weep, I realized that this visit needed to be for Baba Donka. I thanked this special woman for what she has done for our daughter for the past couple of years. She did all that I asked her to in August, including adding the name Katie to the end of her birth name. Katie’s tolerance for being moved and touched has improved enormously during the past three months. Enormously.
Katie’s typical posture when she is picked up is to put her arms above her head. Despite how it appears, she wasn’t reaching for me in the photographs. We do think she recognized me from August. In any case, she is a very alert little person, and does not miss much that happens within her range of vision.
Baba Donka had crocheted little booties for Katie, and dressed her in the little pink sweater she had bought for her. She had many final kisses and loving words for Katie.
We parted with one long, tight hug and promises on my part to send her pictures of Katie as she grows in her new family.
In contrast to the car ride Katie took in August to have her visa photo taken, she settled comfortably into her car seat, and proceeded to amaze us by smiling and laughing for most of the long trip to her capital city.
We went directly from the orphanage to a crowded police station in the capital city for Katie’s passport photo, and then to our hotel, the same hotel where I stayed for one night in August. Remember the courteous waiter with semi-broken English (“Here is delicious bread for you,”) whom I had misunderstood and failed to tip? Yes, that hotel, famous among our attorney’s adoptive families for its very helpful staff and delectable food.
We could hardly believe how wonderfully Katie tolerated all this activity, and how little fussing she did. We settled into our hotel room, ready to relax with her for the next few days. We didn’t have any further appointments until Thursday morning.
When I hit the Publish button on Monday’s gotcha post, it was time to feed Katie her supper. The orphanage had sent two bottles with her, both typical nine-ounce plastic baby bottles rather than the heavy glass beer bottles, but with a huge hole cut in the nipple, just as she had been accustomed to.
The bottles contained her next two meals, which she drank during the trip at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. She didn’t completely finish either bottle, but we already knew about this habit of hers and were not alarmed.
But now we had come to the first bottle made by the hotel staff, and Katie refused to have anything to do with it, pushing it away, turning her head, and making sure that any drips which reached her mouth did not enter there. Well, I thought, surely she will be hungry enough at her 8:30 pm feeding to help her overcome her resistance. Again she refused every approach of that bottle. I set it aside for later, thinking that I could offer it in the night if she were to waken.
I woke at 3:13 am to the crooning sound she makes when putting herself to sleep, and I realized that her diaper was messy for the fourth time since we had reached the hotel room. I made her comfortable, and was concerned at the signs of dehydration that I was seeing, including thick, sticky saliva, very dry, cracked lips, and a sunken fontanel. [No, her fontanel has never closed.]
She again refused even a drop of the bottle, although her system was completely empty by that point. I realized that the situation was only going in one direction, and woke Joe. The child has no reserves. It was clear to us that she needed intervention without delay. We packed up some necessaries and asked for prayer.
Our attorney gave us the name of a nearby hospital, but after the cab driver had dropped us off and driven away, we learned that the doors were locked. Our ringing and knocking produced a very sleepy and puzzled gentleman who allowed us to enter what seemed to be a darkened and deserted building. “Does anyone here speak English?” we asked. His answer was clearly negative. He pointed us to the delivery ward, and we took the elevator. The delivery ward seemed to be deserted except for four newborns who were unattended and screaming vociferously. By and by a very groggy woman came padding out, only to tell us, “No doctor. No English.”
At that point, I remembered that our friend Sasha Bliss had pointed out an enormous building as they drove us about their city. She informed me that it was a hospital run by the Japanese, and that they take their own children to that hospital clinic when they are sick. She further mentioned that they are always meticulously cared for. I couldn’t remember the name she had told me, but our facilitator did. The groggy woman called for a taxi, and we sped along to the second hospital to ask for a naso-gastric tube.
This time there was an emergency room and a kind male ER nurse who could speak some English and was very willing to interpret for us.
Imagine for a moment that you were in their position. Imagine having a couple who does not speak your language show up in the wee hours, carrying a skeletal child the size of a toddler that they are claiming is nine years old, and asking over and over again, with gestures, for a naso-gastric tube. We laugh about it now.
We spent no little time emphatically convincing someone [the head nurse? the ER doctor?] that no, we did not need to travel to a third hospital to see a neurologic specialist because this was not about Down syndrome, it was about a severely malnourished child who was dehydrated, refusing to eat, and needed a naso-gastric tube. Somewhere during this conversation, my face grew warm and my tears flowed. But she relented, called the third hospital back to let them know that we would not be coming, and sent us up to Pediatrics.
I immediately trusted the pediatrician who was on call. I could see that she was competent and trustworthy.
We hadn’t been in Pediatrics long before it began to dawn on us why God had timed this incident to arrive before Adam did.
Katie, all 29 inches and 10 pounds 9 ounces of her emaciated nine-year-old little self, just spent a day under the care of the Head of Pediatrics in the largest and most famous hospital in Katie’s country. If we had simply taken her home, none of the pediatricians or nurses who were shocked by her condition would know what they do now–about the other children in Katie’s former orphanage.
We were released by noon on this day, and had all afternoon and evening to settle back in to our hotel room, figure out Katie’s feeding plan, and enjoy getting to know Adam Boroughs a little better. More on Adam later in this post.
By the time Katie was released, a day and a half after she began to receive IV fluids, we realized that she had been dehydrated when we picked her up from the orphanage. This knowledge, as well as many other things we have learned along the way, will have implications for other very malnourished children who will be leaving this orphanage with their families in months to come.
When our waiter [the very courteous, slim young gentleman with glasses, for those of you who have stayed here yourselves] brought Joe’s, Adam’s, and my dinner up to our room last night, he asked if our baby was doing well. We asked him if he’d like to come in and see our baby, so he did, telling us that he had already seen her on Facebook. [He also said he had worked in America for a while, and wants to go back again.] And we made sure he received the tip he’d earned back in August.
Today we left the hotel around 10:30 am with our facilitator to go to the Polyclinic appointment and US Embassy exit interview. At the Polyclinic, Katie was very briefly seen by an ear, nose and throat specialist, ophthalmologist, and pediatrician. The pediatrician mentioned that she was very malnourished, and also that he was from the same city Katie is from. Our facilitator stayed behind to wait for some papers while we waited for her in the van. When she returned, she said that the pediatrician had seen the date “2009” on Katie’s paperwork, and mistakenly thought it was her birth year. The whole time he was examining her, he thought she was a malnourished two year old. Our facilitator made sure he heard that there were other children in similar condition in the baby house back in his home town.
Our facilitator (our attorney’s cousin, who has been a wonderful help to us this week, with many, many hours of work added to her usual duties) also told us that the US Embassy exit interview would be a long one. We would arrive at 1 pm, be seen around 1:30, and not be able to leave until around 3 pm. When we walked out at 2 pm, she said that it was the fastest exit interview she had ever seen, and she has been working for our attorney for many years.
We appeared before the vice-consul, which some of you may recall is the gentleman who unexpectedly challenged our paperwork in September. Today he told us that our child is already looking better than her visa photo. And moved us through quickly.
Thank You, Lord, for showing us Your love and power~
We had Tuesday and Wednesday “free,” but it was imperative for our adoption process for Katie to be at today’s appointments at the Polyclinic and US Embassy exit interview. The whole hospital episode fit into that time slot perfectly.
The tests that were run on Katie during her hospital stay answered many vital questions about her medical status. This information is immensely valuable as a baseline for her care during the remainder of our time here and in the future. She is doing remarkably well, and we think she will surprise many specialists in the weeks and months ahead.
We also think that the hospital experience accelerated Katie’s progress toward looking to me for comfort. She went very quickly from the atmosphere that was familiar to her for nearly ten years, to being in completely new surroundings with many strangers coming and going. My face was the only somewhat familiar constant in her world for the past few days, and every time the strangers leaned over her to carry out their procedures, she would crane her neck around until she found my face. I spent a lot of the time lying on her bed next to her, and over the course of both days, she gradually grew more relaxed, until now if I lie down next to her as she is going off to sleep, she curls up toward me and flings one foot over to touch me. We think this is remarkable considering the state she was in three months ago. Remember? She liked to be in her bed. She did not like to be touched or moved. At all.
It’s been neat to see that Katie is also growing very relaxed with her daddy, and the fact that I’m a pumping mom means that he has more opportunity to take care of her than he otherwise might.
We were grateful that we were already at the hospital when Adam arrived, because in his jet-lagged state, he was able to know that Katie was being cared for while he caught a good nights’ sleep.
Before we left the hospital, the very helpful ER nurse who translated for us in the wee hours of Tuesday morning stepped onto the elevator with Joe and asked him how our daughter was doing. Joe was grateful for the opportunity to thank him for the help he had given us, as he had melted away unnoticed in the hubbub surrounding Katie’s admission.
The Head of Pediatrics at the hospital here in the capital city spent time at CHOP some years ago. Did you hear that? She spent time at CHOP, where Katie is headed next. She is now in touch with Dr. Friedman, Katie’s doctor at CHOP. There is talk of setting supports in place for the other families who will be adopting very medically-fragile children from Katie’s orphanage.
We were told by several, uh, natives, that the hospital was very expensive. Katie’s whole two-day hospital stay cost about $860 in a package rate. Just one of the ultrasounds Katie received would cost more than that in the States. And they waived a couple of extra fees and upgraded us to a private hospital room at no extra cost.
Katerina, 9 years~
After about one and one-half to two hours of crying…
…Katie decided to ignore the NG tube, and resigned herself to having her arms snuggled under her clothing to prevent her from pulling out her tube.
We were told she was 30 inches long, but it turns out she is only 29 inches long. But then, we didn’t measure her hair.
Everyone at the hospital was extremely gentle and tender to Katie, and more than once we saw someone leave the room with emotion. We were very impressed with the level of care she received. We were also charmed by the whimsical paintings that lined the hallways.
The special WHO formula from France was supposed to arrive here at the hotel on Tuesday. Current estimates now put its delivery at next Monday, missing us neatly, and leaving us with the “next best” option – my milk. Katie has been receiving my milk through her NG tube since it was placed at noontime on Tuesday. Katie is getting my milk. My milk.
That I have any sort of milk supply is at this point nothing short of a miracle. Due to one thing or another, I have been getting far less sleep and food than I should. I will probably receive a mild scolding for finishing this blog post instead of sleeping this afternoon, ahem. So this praise also serves as a prayer request.
The WHO formula will be picked up by missionaries David and Sasha Bliss, to be available for the next child in Katie’s condition to come through this city on their way home.
Our friends David and Sasha Bliss have displayed true servants’ hearts throughout this week, again laying aside their own plans in order to serve us in many ways, from bringing us edible food while we were at the hospital, to loaning us their cell phone, to running to the store for other items. And since the converter for the breastpump burned out, it burns through batteries so fast that a set doesn’t last through one pumping session, and one of the hand pumps is now next to useless, we will take Sasha up on her offer to give us the old one she’s been hanging on to without knowing why.
We just may get to see our adoption attorney tomorrow when she drops off another adoptive family! For many reasons, I felt like I could hardly bear to be right here in her city and not get to see her at all. And you will remember that Joe had not met her at all.
Katie’s private nurse, Adam Boroughs, could not be more well suited for the needs of this situation if we had filled out an order form. Not only is he sensitive and loving to Katie, he is medically perfectly qualified, we are learning a lot from him about adoption, he loves the Lord with all his heart, and is loads of fun to be with. Katie feels safe with him, too. See for yourself.
She is warming up to us more every day, snuggling up to us, accepting more and more touch, even kisses, with pleasure. Clearly, God has kept Katie in the palm of His hand, preparing her to give and receive love, just as we and many others have been praying for her.
Via Skype, we got to witness the first reaction of our firstborn to seeing Katie in our arms on Monday. He said, with emotion in his voice, “We really have her. She’s really ours.”
And that sums up how we feel about this tiny rare treasure.
We are utterly enamored.
We can hardly believe we really have the enormous privilege of caring for this remarkable child.
You have heard it said that life is cheap.
Don’t you believe it for one second.
All the months of hard work, the piles and loads of documents, the painful lessons learned, the extra financial expenses, the painful loss of privacy, the loss of many hours of rest and sleep, the pain of being misjudged, the excruciating waiting times, the unnumbered intense spiritual battles with the accuser of the brethren, the heart-stopping drama that God decided to heap on thickly…
…the difficulties we know are still ahead of us…
Adoption should be hard. We are glad it is hard. And no matter how hard, how painful, how steep the cost…
It doesn’t come close to the value of the life of this one precious human being.
Waiting for the pediatrician like such a good little girl~
Back home from the speedy US Embassy exit interview, where cell phones and cameras were prohibited~
So sweet, little person~
Mmmmmmmmmmmm, croons Katie, chewing on the side of her lip, as is her habit when putting herself to sleep~
On Monday, she wouldn’t let us touch her legs or feet. Today, I massaged them with soothing lotion, and she sighed and giggled with pleasure.
Not much is more beautiful to us in this world than the first pair of brown eyes in the Musser family.
Thank You, Lord, for the life of this child.