Katie-bird in her home nest: Q & A

December 7th, 2011

Q:  Do you stay in touch with Katie’s Baba?

A:  We will be doing that through our missionary friends, the Blisses.  When Baba Donka has a computer and internet again, we plan to send photos.


Q:  Why was Katie able to get a Baba at the orphanage?  Was that something you paid for, or was she paid by the orphanage?

A:  Neither; the Baba Programme is being supported by a charity organisation.  We don’t know how certain children are chosen to receive a Baba, but most of the children in her former orphanage still do not have a Baba.


Q:  Can you tell us what is next medically for Katie?  I know she is getting feeds through her tube so that she can grow.  But what else is next?  Dental? Or?

A:  We know that there is more bloodwork in Katie’s future.  We will need recommendations for some specialists.  We need to look at the next dietary phase.

We should get a good start on a game plan this Friday afternoon with the help of Dr. Kevin A. Strauss, her pediatrician at The Clinic for Special Children.  Dr. Strauss has been Verity’s pediatrician for over a year now.  He’s a rare combination of genius doctor and compassionate human being, and we respect and like him very much for his humble spirit.  (Allergic as we are to doctors with a god complex.)  Actually, we appreciate everything about the Clinic, and consider ourselves blessed that it is only ten minutes from our home.


Q:  You have mentioned Katie’s dental condition, how is that going?  Has she lost most of her teeth?  Will she need a lot of dental work in the near future?

A:   Her top teeth are overcrowded, but in good condition.  Her bottom teeth are gray, and coated with a thick layer of calculus.  The dental specialist who examined her in the PICU said that she still has her baby teeth.  He also said they wouldn’t be able to tell us the true condition of her bottom teeth until her teeth were cleaned.  The cleaning will need to be done under anesthesia at some point.


Q:  Do you have a schedule that you and the children are on during the day?  I was wondering what a typical day (I guess “typical” is not a great word for it) in your household looks like with Katie home.

A:  Schedule?  No.  I’ve tried and tried, but alas, schedules and I don’t get along very well together.  One or the other of us begins feeling very whiny if we get too close to each other.  Just the thought of a schedule makes me want to draw a deep breath and think about starting a project.  But a good routine, with anchor times, is always my friend.

Speaking in very simplified terms to give you the general idea–certain things must be done by breakfast time, lunchtime, suppertime, and bedtime.

As far as our current routine, it is still being tweaked since we did not know until we came home with her what Katie’s care would involve.  We’re starting at survival mode, and we’ll be slowly moving toward adding in activities as our household can tolerate it.


Q:  How do you manage to keep your house so clean with 11 kids?

A:  My first reaction to this question?  “What makes you think our house is so clean?”  Heh heh.  It is constantly a work in progress, as we live in a hundred-year-old 1300 square foot farmhouse with now 13 people.

Other thoughts, in random order…

We have older children who are quite competent, not just younger ones who are still learning to be competent.  We were there some years ago, and yes, it was hard and fulfilling work.  Now I even have an extra driver who only works part time and doesn’t mind running short errands in a pinch.

Now the challenge is to continue to allow the little ones to learn rather than having the big people handle it the quickest way.  But we discovered that it is a great motivation for older ones to teach younger ones a task, if they know that they will be passing the job down as soon as the younger one can do it well.

If there is a job that would take one person an hour to do alone, it takes six people only ten minutes to do it together.

On the other hand, I realized one day that I could keep all of us occupied cleaning something or other all of the time, and it would be up to me to draw the line, since we don’t believe that God called us to spend our lives keeping our house perfect.  So beyond a basic cleanliness, I have had to let some things go.

We do, however, believe our primary calling is toward building relationships, including relationships with our children.  If something has to go, we don’t want it to be relationships.  And constantly moving everyone onward to the next thing isn’t always conducive to sturdy relationships.

I do not like unnecessary stuff, and that is an understatement.  I attempt to teach my children to judge between trash and treasure.  “And where does trash belong?”

At any given time, our house is more likely to be tidy than clean.  If you come to our back door unexpectedly, you will most likely look through a pattern of fingerprints into our kitchen.  Fresh fingerprints only take about thirty seconds, if that.  Furthermore, I have observed that messiness in big, new houses looks comfortable, but messiness in small, old houses looks squalid.  So decluttering is an ongoing event at our house.  One of the many things I love about living in a small house, though, is that it doesn’t take very long to put it in order if we all go at it with a will.

If everyone who knows me well in real life voted, it would be unanimous.  Susanna would only be improved if she would just relax more often.

And that, my friends, is that, for better or for worse.


Q:  Can a local person come and visit you and Katie?  Maybe help out for a day?  I would love to be “helping hands” to you sometime!  ~S.

A:  Depending on the helper, we would love to have occasional help!

S.~  I know you and would love to have you come help out!  Your offer made me choke up, knowing your connection with Mom.


Q:  What is Katie doing throughout the day, as your life goes on as normal with all of the other children?

A:  Truth be told, I can’t define exactly what normal is at this point.  I seem to have lost track of that somewhere along the line.

But I can tell you about the several options for our Katie-bird.  Usually, I hold her.  Sometimes I will allow Laura or Jane to hold her for brief periods, and Daddy loves to hold her when he’s home.  When she grows uncomfortable with being held, she either goes down onto the play mat or into her Nap Nanny, depending on which room she will be in and what other activity is going on there.  The Nap Nanny keeps her safe in high-traffic locations.  It has been the ideal, soft, portable place for her, holding her in a reclining position to keep the stress off her spine and enabling her to observe her busy family or be near me while I am pumping or showering.


Q:   I noticed she is in a seat for a lot of her pictures…  is that just because she feels more secure there?  Is “floor time” something you haven’t really started yet, or does it make her uncomfortable?

A:  It is simply because I am nearly always the photographer.  In real life, when the camera is not a part of it, I am usually holding her or she is close to me.  I do all her care myself.


Q:   She seems to be blossoming so well… did God just especially bless her with her ability to bond and receive love, despite her past, or is there something specific you’re doing?

A:  Random thoughts~

There are some parents who do everything right, and their adopted child refuses to accept their love.

We were told that the more care that the adopted child needs from the primary caregiver, usually the mom, the faster the bonding process occurs.  Katie is totally dependent on me for her care, and I believe she can sense that I am reveling in this “duty.”  I love being a mama, and this task is like mothering on steroids.

So many of you have been praying with us for Katie.

She had an unusually loving baba, very demonstrative.

We think her Down syndrome may be helping her out in this area.  This is not a guarantee of happiness or lovingness, though, despite common misconceptions.  She did get a full measure of stubbornness, which many associate with the extra chromosome.  Joe just says she’ll fit right into this family.

However it is, we are just grateful for her sake that she is opening up and soaking in the love.  We have so many years to make up for.


Q:  How do you walk the line between giving her enough interaction and overstimulating her… and how do you get your younger kids to?  (I don’t know the ages of your little ones other than Verity.)

A:  You have described it well.  There is a line, and it started out being razor thin.  But it is widening rapidly.

Our children fall into a neatly organized pattern of Big Boys, Big Girls, Little Boys, and Little Girls.  Joseph, Daniel, and Joshua are 18, 16, and 14 years old, Laura and Jane are 12 1/2 and nearly 10, John Michael, Peter, James, and Stephen are 6, 5 & 5 (today!), and 3, Verity is 17 months.  (Katie holds the distinction of being a Big Girl and a Little Girl at the same time.)

Our children can be a noisy, active bunch, but they are not out of control.  When the noise and activity reach reasonable limits for the occasion, we bring it back down.  If it is appropriate noise and activity for the occasion, and I can tell Katie has reached her limits, chances are that I will also appreciate backing off to a quiet place for a little while.


Q: How did Katie feel about that kiss on the forehead from her sister?  Does she allow others to hold her yet?    Have those orphanage coping behaviors stopped or are near stopping?

A:  Mama is #1 with Katie, Daddy takes second place, and Laura is in third.  That was the first kiss Laura ventured, and Katie received it well, as you can see from the photographs.  Katie also loves to hear Joseph play the piano, and lights up for either Joseph or Daniel when they enter the room.

Jane is working on making friends with her new sister, who is two months younger than she is.  She discovered that Katie laughs when she whistles~


Q:  What do Katie and Verity think of each other?

A:  They went from simply tolerating one another’s presence to being curious about each other.


Q:  What medications is Katie on?

A:  The same thyroid medication that Verity receives each morning to control hypothyroidism, as well as various vitamin and mineral supplements.


Q:  Why do they refer to her as a “medical curiosity?”

A:  There aren’t many people around who are this tiny at this age, resulting from profound neglect from the time of birth.  Even Hitler didn’t have nine years to experiment on people this way.  She may never encounter any physicians who had prior experience with a child in a similar condition.  For this reason, we believe it is wiser for physicians to approach her with a good measure of humility, and to some extent, to expect to learn from her.


Q:  Are you continuing to see Katie make progress, and if so in what ways?

A:  Yes!  She is reaching out and touching things more readily now.  I rarely saw her do that until the past few days.  When I am sitting next to her, she will reach out and touch my arm and hand for short periods of time.  She’s doing that right now, right next to me in the Nap Nanny, with my arm draped along the edge.  Truly amazing considering that not long ago, she was agitated by any object within her reach, and would cry if she was unable to push it away.

Katie has a line.  She can cross the line, but we cannot.  She is always completely aware of where we are in relation to her line.  Her line is definitely moving inward and getting fuzzier.  This means she allows more close interaction from more of us.  She more readily makes eye contact with me, and takes more pleasure in being touched and held.  This morning I grasped one of her feet, then the other, saying, “Foot,” and did this over and over.  She took it all in the first few times, then decided she liked it, and began to smile.

She is learning the language of praise.  We could tell at the beginning that our praise communicated nothing to her whatsoever.  Now she responds by smiling.

It can be uncomfortable and even scary to be in a place of need.  It has always been a very sensitive place for me, and I am still wary of folks if I sense that they would resent what they have given, or see it as a burden to help me or our family, or use their gift in manipulative ways.  Katie has come carefully to that uneasy place with me, and I feel it as an honor that she would trust me with her needs.

She has cried since coming home, a few times because she wanted me, and a few times because she was bored and wanted a change in position or scenery.  She begins to grow agitated at the same noise and chaos level where I begin to grow agitated, so we make a good pair of family barometers.

She is gaining in strength and getting more active.  She occasionally attempts to sit more upright on my lap and in the Nap Nanny.

She is gaining in feeling secure in her environment.  She has demonstrated that she will scoot on her belly (army crawl) to get closer to something she is curious about or to get closer to me.

She is beginning to show some ability to regulate her emotions.

She has a small noise she makes with her voice that she thinks is speech.  She will go back and forth with us in a conversation IF she is in the mood for it.  She is in the mood for it more often all the time.

She does her orphanage behaviors mostly when she is bored or sleepy, and we are able to distract or re-direct her from some of them.

I began giving her the merest tastes of tasty foods a couple of days ago.  She has received that well, pulling her lower lip inward rather than pushing the food out with her tongue.  If she was refusing it, she would push it out, as she did to the food we attempted to give her in the hotel in her native country.

And of course, she is continuing to grow at a prodigious rate.  I weighed her on our digital scales the evening we arrived home, to get a baseline for comparison.  She weighed 12 pounds 8 ounces then.  Last night she was 13 pounds 12 ounces, a gain of 1 1/4 pounds in 5 days, and an overall gain of approximately 3 pounds and 3 ounces in 3 weeks.  We think that part of the reason she is more willing to sit upright is that she actually has the beginnings of a seat-cushion there now, which was entirely absent before.


Q:  In what ways can you tell she is nine years old, and not a baby?

A:  I have tried repeatedly to put words to this, but they haven’t yet formed in ways that make sense to those on the outside.  The difference immediately became obvious to our older children as soon as we brought her home and she spent some time alongside Verity.  Some of the differences have to do with her interests (she despises toys in a queenly sort of way), her mannerisms, her extraordinary curiosity about what we are doing (also known as nosiness), her physical differences, and her level of social intelligence.

That nosiness, by the way, may end up being her biggest motivator when she starts physical therapy.


Q:  What specific prayer needs do you have right now?

A:  That Katie would continue to thrive without getting sick.

That the bad cough Verity has had since we were in Katie’s country would go away and not come back.

And that our family would continue to adjust with aplomb to our new normal of life with our little fragile bird.

To everyone who has been so faithfully and diligently praying for us, thank you.  We have needed the help of God, and His help has been unfailing.  I want to tell you more about God’s provision for our needs in some future post.



P. S.  I just remembered that I promised to email someone my post full of tips for traveling to Katie’s native country.  If you remember who you are, could you pretty please forgive me and clue me in?

P. P. S.  As I publish this, there are still 7 1/2 hours left of the Hidden Treasures auction.  Not too late to get a few more bids in!  Thank you for stopping in to check it out!




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43 Responses to “Katie-bird in her home nest: Q & A”

  1. Stori says:

    Thank you for all of this! She is going to thrive!

  2. marilyn says:

    Loved this info update.  The pics are adorable!  I wish I could hug you in person.

  3. debbie fitts says:

    That was wonderful to read, and must have taken a lot of time to write up.  Thank you!  I hope you are feeling better.  We have enjoyed following along and pray often.  We ooo and aahh at all the pictures, what a treat to see God working.  She is thriving under your loving care.

  4. I can’t tell you how encouraging this is for me! Thank you so much for making the time to write it out for us. Continuing to pray and expect more amazing things for Katie!

  5. Caitlin Asher says:

    I love the pictures, she is just beautiful! She looks amazing. Her weight gain is obvious even to us.

    I think what made me realize that she wasn’t an infant when I first saw her picture was her hands. They don’t look like baby hands, they look like the hands of a little girl, just shrunk!

    I love reading your updates. All the efforts going into her development, attachment, and growth are just fantastic to watch. You and your family are doing amazing things for this little girl, and I am sure she is doing many amazing things in return!

  6. Hollie says:

    Dare I say that her cheeks are even beginning to look chubby?!?! ;) She looks wonderfully more healthy and plump and strong and happy and sweet even just in the past week. A happy and safe home and family look good in her. Go Katie bird GO!!

  7. Amanda says:

    Love this update Susanna!!
    Seeing those pictures of Katie laughing and smiling melted my heart. So much love and respect for you guys, adopting (especially one with special needs) is something I’ve always wanted to do.

  8. Katie looks so happy.  I love her smile!

    Are you able to tell us where Katie is from yet? 

  9. Gail Kenyon says:

    Hey Susanna!  It was me that was asking about the list of what to pack for the first trip—if you have time!  I got some info from Carol, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get to it.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing your family with us.  I love to see Katie’s smile, and to read about your other children’s interactions with her.  I am sure that the dynamics vary from day to day, and each morning brings many surprises!  

    Blessings, and may the Lord continue to so richly bless you! 

  11. Susanna says:

    Gail, emailed you! :)

  12. Deanna says:

    Really great post!

    Happy Birthday to the Peter and James…hope you all enjoyed the treats! 

  13. Mary Feigum says:

    I have so rejoiced with your entries the last few weeks. In the photo of katie looking at Verity you posted recently, the expression on Katies face is of a older child looking at a baby. You have said she hates toys with a queenly attitude. Have you found anything yet (besides music) that she seems interested in? Also are you planning on “putting it back up” after “taking it down”? Or do you belive for other adoptions from this country it would be best to leave it down?  praying for you and your family-Mary 

  14. Susanna, I wait with anticipation for your newest blog post each day … it is good for the soul to read of Katie’s continued growth and improvement. :) You all will continue to be in our prayers. 

  15. Holly says:

    Thank you for answering my questions! 

    These pictures are so beautiful!  I love that joyful smile! 

    I think that her age and size really sunk in for me with the photo of Jane and Katie and your statement that Katie is two months older than Jane!  But size means nothing compared to the great things Katie’s life has and will accomplish!!  In that respect, she is a giant!

  16. Nancy says:

    Thank you for the update and pictures!  I love, love, love getting to watch Katie thrive in your family.  She is so beautiful!

    After reading your update about the dental work, I wondered if you were talking about Katie’s permanent teeth, or does she still have her baby teeth?  Have her vision and hearing been checked as well?

    She does look wonderful, and I can see even from pictures that she is beginning to fill out some.  I love to see her smiling and laughing!  :) 

  17. Amy says:


    I don’t think it was me, but I would LOVE that list of tips because we are awaiting our call anytime!! It is SUCH a blessing to me to see Katie and all of you in these beautiful pictures and words. I cannot believe how much she has changed except I have seen it myself over and over and it is AMAZING. I know you have so much in your heart that will forever be between you and the Lord and I am rejoicing with you in those sweet moments that only you share. There are often no words to describe what is happening. Much love to you, Susanna!!  Amy from Philly

  18. Amy says:

    I just love reading about Katie and seeing so many pictures of her smiling.  She is a treasure!  Thanks for writing all the wonderful updates.  Katie has captured so many hearts including mine!

  19. Carla says:

    Her tiny little body can barely contain her enormous personality… it’s overflowing in every photo!  She’s beeeea-u-ti-ful.

  20. Susanna says:

    Amy P. from Philly, emailed you! :)

  21. Susanna says:

    Deanna, they were lovely! All day I wanted to call and thank you, and the opportunity didn’t arise! I will try again tomorrow!

  22. Susanna says:

    It was easy to do, Gail! So thrilled for you to be this close to seeing sweetie-cakes Ana!

  23. Jane says:

    Susanna, again what a great gift to get to witness your family as it grows with Katie and as Katie grows.  And 1300 square feet made my husband and I take note and basically, you all might be our heroes now.  We have never wanted a big house, and WOW! You guys are even more inspiration for us!
    I loved this:  “It can be uncomfortable and even scary to be in a place of need.  It has always been a very sensitive place for me, and I am still wary of folks if I sense that they would resent what they have given, or see it as a burden to help me or our family, or use their gift in manipulative ways.  Katie has come carefully to that uneasy place with me, and I feel it as an honor that she would trust me with her needs.”
    I think that speaks volumes about how many of us struggle with our needs and having them met.  What a beautifully honest, attuned statement about yourself, your Katie bird and your relationship.
    As always, much love and prayers coming your way…

  24. Carol says:

    Yes, I appreciated you sharing about your 1300 sq ft house too. There are times when I imagine our newer (only 60 year old) 1150 square foot house feels a tad squishy for the 5 of us! It is a quirky house (eg. no basement or ductwork and the furnace is in the living room), but I am slowly growing to love it. Ah, yes the decluttering and tidying is top on my list and somehow it is rare when I actually get to the cleaning. Oftentimes, all the tidying I get done is piling everything into a big box until I can deal with it later. (Ahem, I don’t really want to mention how many boxes I have like this at the moment.) Even if things aren’t actually put away, some clear floor space does loads for my sanity level. Also, if something has sat in a box for a few weeks and no one has missed it, maybe that’s a clear indication if it’s trash or treasure. :)

  25. Justine says:

    THANK YOU for this post!  You are again my hero now that I know that you live in a small house!  I have a 977 square foot house that we feel rather squashed in, and there are only 4 (hopefully soon to be 5) of us.  I think the key is in the clutter.  I must get it out!!! (And make my children do the same.)
    I am thrilled about your sweet Katie-bird.  She is a gift from God, as are all children.  Thank you so much for this wonderful post.

  26. Tami C. says:

    I absolutely LOVE to see these happy pictures of her.  What a miracle!  And to hear about her weight gain – hooray and Praise the Lord!!!!!

  27. Angie says:

    I also love reading all about Katie and her progress, and her smiling face just brings so much joy to my soul.  To think that not long ago she was stuck in that orphanage, and now she is surrounded by a family that loves her so much.  It just gives me hope.  Thank you for sharing her with us.

  28. Jennie says:

    I am so happy to see the pictures of Katie with such a precious smile on her face!!!  I so look forward to reading new posts of how she is doing, and it always brings tears of joy to my eyes when I see her beautiful face and how HAPPY she is!!  Just thinking of how she was never really *happy* until she met you and your family, and now she is just beaming!!!!  :)  What a blessing you are to her, and she is to you!!!  Thanks be to God for giving this opportunity to bring *life* to sweet little Katie!!! 

  29. Katie (really, I'm serious) says:

    I’m new around your blog, it was linked by someone who saw your post about bringing Katie home and the pictures of her in her car seat, and shared it with a group of us who have a passion for keeping kids safe in the car (check out http://www.car-seat.org if you feel like it).  I clicked the link to your blog because I wondered how a nine year old could possibly weigh so little and fit in an infant seat.  I work with car seats every day, most kids outgrow that seat by age 1 or 1.5.  I just couldn’t fathom it.  I came to your blog, looked at the mentioned picture (which was adorable and great car seat use by the way) and then started reading the beginning of Verity’s story.  I must admit, I skipped ahead to her birth after a while to make sure she’d be okay (as if the picture of the precious little girl on the homepage wasn’t enough).  

    Then I started reading Katie’s story.  I watched the video about the mental institutions.  I was appalled.  I’ll be fully honest, I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and have been hospitalized in a U.S. mental hospital.  It was terrible, the nurses were abusive, literally, they would not give anyone the medications they needed or were prescribed, always mixed things up, failed to keep the facility secure from threats to or by the patients, and many patients had been there days or weeks without ever seeing a doctor or a social worker.  Any therapy was a joke.  I remember thinking, how can this happen in 21st century America?  But as horrible as that was (and they had a juvenile ward, kids over five, as well), it paled in comparison to the video.  It changed your life… it changed mine too.  I continued to read about Katie (again, more skipping around to find certain things out, make sure she got through things okay, see adorable pictures.  I was amazed at what I learned about children not producing their growth hormone and being so developmentally stunted.  Honestly I had heard of things happening in foreign orphanages, but I had no concept of how bad it was or how detrimental it was to the kids… I think I just assumed they’d grow up normally, just socially neglected.  I couldn’t believe how wrong I was, that I’ve lived 22 years having no idea what was truly going on out there.  

    I haven’t been able to get your family, especially Katie, and the rest of those kids still in terrible places, off my mind since I found your blog, and I found it the day you posted Katie’s home from the hospital post.  I went to Reece’s Rainbow, only to find that I’d seen that site before while researching FAS for a college project (I have a degree in public health).  But I’d had no idea then, that those were REAL children, living and breathing and suffering at THIS moment… I was just in search of information about the effects of FASDs on children.  I paged through the pictures.  I saw pictures of children I just wanted to reach out and hug.  Children who reminded me of the ones I care for in a sort of pseudo-foster-parent situation (they are 12, 8, and 2, and I may not have birthed them, but they are my babies, near or far).  And I saw what you saw – *my* babies lying there, tied to a crib, literally starving not only for food but for love and attention.  “My” 8 year old is very small because she is neglected, but nowhere near where Katie is.  I met her when she was 16 months and started having her every day when she was 2.  She was completely nonverbal until she was 3.  Fortunately, I was able to help her… put a lot of pounds on her, got her into an educational environment, loved her, and provided a place to call home when there was no other.  Frequently she tells me she’s “STARVING” and I remind her what starving means, and she says, very gravely, “Oh.  I mean, I’m very hungry.”  Okay, that last bit was mostly a brag, not entirely relevant, hah.  

    Anyways, like I said, I can’t get these kids out of my head.  I have fertility issues and have always known I was going to adopt and/or foster.  Like you, I now feel a calling to these children, and when God moves the mountains in my life (and I plan to help push them), I hope to help a little girl like Katie… or two children, or three, or more.  I think I was born with a love for children and I’ve always wanted a big family.  Then I was stricken with endometriosis at 18 and I wondered… why ME?  Why THIS disease?  I think I know now.  If I’d never had to think about my fertility, or losing it, I’d never have paid quite the attention to adoption that I have.  I wonder, if God gave me this disease instead of someone else, because He knew that I would do good with it.  I hope I can live up to that.  Well, let’s just put it this way, I plan on it.  

    Here’s the part of this incredibly long comment wherein the aforementioned children become relevant.  The 12 year old, who is the oldest, was sitting with me the other night as I read your blog, and I showed her the picture of Verity and Katie together.  I told her how old Verity was, and asked her how old she thought Katie was.  She said “Maybe two?”  She sensed it was a trick question but she was staying in her comfortable realm of reality.  Then I said, “She’s nine.”  Kiddo: “She’s nine?”  Me:  “She’s nine.”  Kiddo: “No way.”  Me:  Yes.  *proceeds to explain why she’s so small*.  

    Kiddo and I had a conversation, I told her about the orphanages, I showed her the video.  She’s in a very angsty adolescent stage and is somewhat rebellious, typical teen stuff, and as she’s watching, she said “That’s so sad, I think I’m going to cry.”  Then I showed her some of the pictures of children on Reece’s Rainbow.  I showed her BOTH, yes, BOTH pages of “My Family Found Me”.  I showed her your post with the photos of the children when they were first adopted or in the orphanage, and when they had progressed physically and mentally.  I told her how the process worked and how much it cost and how big the obstacles were, but that someday I was going to do it.  Kiddo, who underneath that teen angst guise, is really a very caring and perceptive individual, looks me straight in the eyes and said “I’ll adopt one.  I’ll adopt two!”   <3 I am so proud of her.  

    Anyways, I’m sure people tell you what a great thing you’re doing all the time (they do that to me because of my complicated kid situation) and I imagine you answer the same way as me:  At what point would I have made a different choice?  Where others see a choice to help someone or do something else, I see only one choice I can live with.   I didn’t do what I did because I wanted people to tell me how great I was, and neither did you.  We did it because of love.  So instead of reiterating that, I just want to tell you how glad I am to have found your blog, because it has changed my life and will change its course forever.  I won’t make a promise I can’t keep.  I will follow your blog always, from now on, and I will keep you and your family in my prayers… and when I reach the point where I’m ready to pursue an adoption of one of these precious children, I hope you’ll still be around to give me pointers.  I truly enjoy the pictures you post of your family, you are all very beautiful.  Your blog has put a lot of things in my current life into perspective and I can’t thank you enough for that.  You know, sometimes I don’t believe that God is in the miracle performing business these days, that he’s going around changing individual lives, because I wonder what makes some people get a miracle and others not?  I wonder why God is concerned with one individual on a planet of nearly 7 billion.  But then sometimes things happen, and I KNOW God is at work in my life, because how could such coincidences occur?  Finding your blog was God working in my life.  It happened at exactly the right time, and it changed me.  Having lost my wonderful best friend to cancer in July, I missed her refreshing optimism and confidence that God was always at work.  You remind me of her.  She’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.  (oh, and side note, she’s published, 1st and last story in “Chicken Soup: Find Your Happiness”.  You should check it out, when you get a modicum of time, because her words are amazing.  Had she survived, she had planned to adopt as well.  

    It probably took you like two hours to read all that (it took me two days to decide what to write) so I’ll try to wrap it up, but in closing, thank you.  Thank you for the influence you’ve already had on my life, the influence you will have on my life and countless others in the future, the influence on my big kid’s life, and your literally life-saving influence on the lives of your family.  In today’s world, souls like yours and my best friend’s are not common enough – and I’m glad to know another of them.

    I do have one question to add for the next Q and A!  You said you were feeding Katie little bits of tasty foods; what are you feeding her?  My three were all underweight when they came to me, and I didn’t want to give them a bunch of junk, but the middle one is super picky, and I really just want her to eat, haha.  When #3 was born I read about high calorie first foods, but none of them sounded tasty to me.. (he liked them though.  Oddly, peas were his favorite baby food, but he HATED beans).  Just curious what you’re starting with to entice her into eating orally!

    Anyways, thanks for the ridiculous amount of your time I’ve managed to consume.  And by the way, my name is Katie too, but it’s short for Katherine.  
    <3 – Katie

    P.S. – I saw this shirt/onesie in a catalog the other day (http://www.cafepress.com/+she_is_fierce_infant_bodysuit,561628274), and I thought of Katie :)  

  30. Rochelle Wilson says:

    What joy to see her smiling in these pictures! Wish I lived nearby to help out :)

  31. Valerie says:

    I wait for these posts like a kids on Christmas morning!  Eagerly waiting! It’s so inspiring and meaningful! I’ll enjoy offering the prayers you listed. I wish everyone could read about your family and Katie. The world would benefit greatly!  Blessings!

  32. Autumn says:

    We will continue our prayers for your family :) LOVED reading the Q&A!! I have to admit as well, my entire family, which is small (only 4) all gather around the computer to read your updates and see pictures. My kids are 9 and 10 and they are crushed on how children have been treated in other countries and thrilled and enthralled by your family. They, along with my husband and I, are learning so much from you and yours! I have to say your post about being tidy really hit home for me personally..I am learning that with children and pets and living in the country, it is just best to let things be tidy…there are more important things to do with what we have been blessed with and I have to not let cleaning rule the roost. Tidy is good :) Living the life you are supposed to be is wonderful!  Thank you for taking time out of your super busy days to teach the rest of us, truly thank you!

  33. taraandfamily says:

    Simply loved, how amazing is your Katie-bird! God is so, so good – ALL THE TIME! So happy to read your posts and see pictures of your beautiful family! Blessings to you each of you, Tara

  34. Lorena says:

    I don’t know if there’s anything sweeter to see than Katie’s smile!  Thanks for all the updates.  On another note, I have four teddy bears (handmade from shrunken wool sweaters) that I’d like to give you either for your four girls, or your four littlest ones, or for the next Hidden Treasures auction, wherever you think they would be most useful.  (see my blog for a photo)

  35. Joy says:

    Love, love, love seeing the color in her cheeks and the roundness!! Beautiful job, mama!! I loved reading all of the Qs and As. So good to ‘read’ you, Susanna.

    I miss you, dear one. Praying for Verity’s cough to go bye-bye for good and to stay far away from Katie.

    Have you recovered from your sickness?     

  36. Jessica says:

    Oh my goodness!  I stumbled upon your site and I could not stop reading for hours…kept me up until 2:00am but it was so worth it.  I felt like it was MEDICINE for my soul to read your AMAZING story!  Kaitie is just the sweetest thing ever & of course Verity too.  I had NO IDEA that such places as these orphanages existed (neither did my husband or mom).  Shatters my heart to even imagine it.  I hope you know that your story is sending such light into the world.  I’m just wondering and hoping if my own little family could ever do something so powerful…maybe…for now I’ll just have to make do with praying and donating to those little ones.
    Thank you for sharing!

  37. Susanna says:

    Jessica, believe me, praying and donating are not second best options! They are absolutely necessary in this team effort!! God is using so many people in your position, and more all the time, to get this job done. So THANK YOU for wanting to help! And stay tuned for an upcoming SN adoption-related Q & A. :D

  38. Laura Sparks says:

    Our family has been so personally touched by little Katie’s story…little ones like Katie are why we pray with our children day and night for God to bring comfort to the afflicted.  And that He has!  Your openness has allowed our family to see firsthand the goodness of our God, and how wonderful to see Him displayed.  You have our prayers in California!  And, when my first grandbaby arrives in June, if she is a girl, she will be called Verity Grace…and this is right where I heard that name that my son and daughter-in-law have grown to love!

  39. Elissa says:

    You’re family is awesome. Katie looks great. God is good!

  40. Amy says:

    Susanna…I didn’t get your email the other night. Just saw your comment here. Maybe it was the other Amy P??? Sorry about that. Wish I could make it easier. Maybe I’ll try to change my screen name to Amy P from Philly:) My email is…thepetersons237@verizon.net. Thanks, Susanna!

  41. Sounds like Katie is coming along nicely.  Just seeing pics of Katie smiling and laughing speak volumes. 
    Continuing to pray here and thanks so much for sharing.

  42. Susanna says:

    Amy, the first one came back to me, so I thought I had the address wrong and asked the Boroughs for it. The second one didn’t come back to me, so if you haven’t received it, could it possibly be in your spam folder? Or maybe I’ll send it to the Boroughs to send to you!

  43. Susanna says:

    Thank you, Lorena! Emailed you…

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