Fifteen minutes

January 23rd, 2012

Question:  You seem so calm and positive all the time.  Don’t you ever lose your cool?

Answer:  If you and I were sitting in our living room chatting together, and I told you the following story, you would see my face flush and tears come to my eyes.  The emotion is still fresh, and it is anger.  Cheek-burning, blood pressure-elevating, heart-pounding, hyperventilating, suffocating, hold-back-the-tears anger.

A quick decision needed to be made.

The dentist said he wanted to clean up her teeth a bit so he could examine them better.  We were already in the right place, over an hour from home, and Katie had done remarkably well for her unsedated DEXA scan.

Sedating any child carries its own risk.

I decided to let him go ahead and try.

I sat on the dentist’s chair with Katie on my lap.  They reclined the seat until she and I were lying nearly flat on our backs, her head up on my right shoulder.

I looked up at the bright lights and murmured into her ear.  “I know it is sooo scary, Katie.  Mama is here.  You’ll be okay…I know…I know…”

What if you went to visit a family you hadn’t seen for years, and when you got to their house, you found out that the parents had been keeping their children in their beds, away from the public eye, for years.

What if you found out that they valued their children so little that they had never so much as brushed their teeth, so that their children’s mouths were evil-smelling pits containing dark gray bacteria, coated thickly with discolored yellowish rock?  Swollen, bleeding gums?  Sores on their tongues?

The reeking, horrific condition of their mouths made them so unpleasant as to become socially unacceptable.  Stripped of basic human dignity.

Pronouncing their children unlovable, then causing them to become unlovely by failing to love them.

Is that okay?


Would you feel angry?

How long did our little girl

…our precious helpless little girl!


…have to carry that foulness inside her mouth?

Why is it not okay for parents to treat their children that way, but it is “understandable” for orphanage workers not to find the time in nearly ten years to brush a child’s teeth??

I confess I have not felt so angry in a long time as I did when it all came off easily, using basic dental tools.

In fifteen minutes.



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25 Responses to “Fifteen minutes”

  1. Debbie says:

    really!  15 minutes!  when you mentioned the dental visit before, i thought it was going to be a horrific story (nothing against dentists – i’m married to one!).  i couldn’t imagine that katie would be able to handle the sensory input of a cleaning, so soon after coming home.  i’m glad i was wrong!
    and you are so right about how powerful dehuminizing a person is; how it serves to validate negative attitudes toward that person.  how else could the “caregivers” legitimize their treatment of katie and all the rest of the lost children? your anger, fierce as it may be, is totally justified.  it’s not really loosing your cool – i take that to mean irrational behavior. 
    i’m glad that the dental visit was so easy, that katie’s mouth is clean and healthy.  and i’m loving her perfect outfit today!!  

  2. I am so glad she now has a mama who loves her for the treasure she is!  Her smile melts my heart.  I just want to give her a big hug.

  3. Lynn jerguson says:

    the callousness of the orphanage workers is horrible. the grace that brought the unloved child into the hearts and home and arms of loving parents shines through the story of katie. I feel so blessed to raise your family up to the throne of God.

  4. Susanna says:

    Debbie, she sobbed VERY loudly for the whole cleaning, but it went by quickly, and she still loves to have her teeth brushed! :)

  5. Lynn says:

    Unbelievable.  Sometimes anger is the right response.

  6. Sandryte says:

    I also feel a lot of anger on those workers.. What are the reasons to do their job so carelessly? Poor salary? Stone hearts? I see no logical explanation. I hope my anger will not dissapear like that or become numb, but will create many good works for orphans.

  7. Sandryte says:

    By the way, Katie is the most beautiful girl! Her progress, her shining eyes, her soon-to-be chubby cheeks – I adore her!

  8. Rita in Spain says:

    Oh Susana, all I can say is thank god she found her Mama…..: )

  9. blackhuff says:

    So happy for the both of you, that it only took 15 minutes. 

  10. Becky K. says:

    Katie is an amazing girl…she held on through all of the injustices and mistreatment until you could come.  Praising God for the mercy of allowing her teeth to come clean in just 15 minutes, without sedation. 
    Those people definitely don’t get it.  They need Jesus.

  11. Deanna says:

    I told Joe two weeks ago at church, those people don’t treat their own children that way!  They didn’t see these children as worth anything, so why bother.
    Katie is thriving – the difference in her photos is stunning…I am sorry that I missed her on Sunday!

  12. Amy (mimi) says:

    I was shocked in you PP when you said that Katie did the cleaning unsedated. I just couldn’t imagine how she would hold still for the hours of work it would take to clean all that stuff off her teeth, so I am totally shocked that it only took 15min!!! I can not imagine the anger you have to feel about the entire situation, I know how angry I am about it and I am so far removed.
    She is getting to be quite the little rolly polly! I love it!!! Those little cheeks are so stinking cute!

  13. Denise says:

    Did I see chubby cheeks in that last picture!?!!  oh my soooo cute!!!

    I too am glad it only took 15 minutes.

  14. sabrina says:

    The pictures say it all.

    In 15 minutes her mouth was transformed and in just a handful of weeks she has been transformed. She was always beautiful, but now she is tended to…loved…valued….cherished like the precious little treasure she is. Because of that she sparkles and God is using her in big ways.

  15. April says:

    15 minutes!!!! oh good gravy, angry doesn’t begin to cover how i would feel. I am lovin those chubby cheeks by the way :)

  16. Anne Ross says:

    That post so made me cry.. The pictures of Katie NOW make me smile, smile, smile…I don’t understand why they don’t brush their teeth..???? Is this not their job to take care of these children???? Beyond angry about that….

  17. Kenna says:

    I only recent discovered your blog (and I don’t remember how I stumbled on it either!) and got sucked right in by Verity’s darling grin.  How could you not?? :)
    I of course had to read through and learn about Katie… and all I can really say is what a difference.  AMAZING.  She has such a sparkle to her and so much life!!  Definitely a fighter, and a beautiful one to boot.
    So glad you have her home. :D 

  18. Dawn Wright says:

    You know  there is a righteous anger!!!!  The kind that is because of the unrighteous!  The kind that says- WHY ON EARTH do you NOT GET IT??? 
    Oh man….believe me with our newest blessing who was very much left alone….not in an orphanage, but with his birth mom…….and I have an anger- not at her, but at the situation my sweet pie was in.  And it is anger, anger to change the world- for our new son.  Anger enough to say- PLEASE WORLD WAKE UP and DO SOMETHING!!!!!!

  19. Christy says:

    God is good and greatly to be praised! It has been a blessing to “see” Katie’s story unfold and pray for her (you all) and rejoice in her progress. She is the cutest thing EVER! Even my two year old son loves to look at Katie pictures when I check the blog. :)

  20. Tara says:

    My response would be the same in telling of this story. In fact, it was when I relayed it to my family. 

    In response to your question about our adoption plans (I almost laugh when I write that…”OUR adoption plans.” Knowing full well we are not following our own plans and that adoption rarely follows a plan anyway. :) We have submitted a request to the Minister of Adoption in Serbia to allow an exception for our family size and let us adopt from their country. They are on holiday until next month, so we will see. If denied, we will go through Bulgaria and seek a blind referral for a 2-4 yo boy or girl with Ds. I just can’t choose.  Prayers are so appreciated! 

  21. Holly says:

    15 minutes.  I’m glad that is all it took, but it is so sickening that this, and so much more, could have been prevented by simple love and care!!!  It is infuriating!!  I have begun to think of the prenatal abortions and plight of orphans with Down syndrome as a holocaust.  It is a slow, systematic destruction of those with Down syndrome. 

    Just as another commenter stated, your anger is extremely justified.

  22. Katie says:

    Amen to the previous poster.  Society, both here and abroad, is warring on children with disabilities, particularly Down Syndrome.  I only just remembered now a day, long ago, when I was about 14 years old and a freshman in high school taking Biology I.  We were learning about DNA and mutations, including Down Syndrome and other things.  One day we watched a video about genetic counseling.  I watched two moms tell stories of how joyful they were to become pregnant, and then finding out their child would have Down syndrome.  As one of the mothers began to explain why she had chosen abortion, I excused myself from the room… and sat down in the hallway outside and cried.  To me it was no different than had someone in the video stated that their child was born ‘defective’ so they murdered him.  I cried for my uncle Tony, who had DS, and who, for ten years, was the light of my mom’s family’s lives.  Who I loved since I was very young, even though I never met him.  Whose grave I visit every single year, trace the letters with my fingers, and whisper, “I miss you.”  

    Anger is sometimes the appropriate response, in my opinion.  Perhaps not in our actions (ie, we should not act in anger or violence because we FEEL anger), but feeling it, when justified, when filled with righteous indignation, I believe that is GOOD.  Because that is what allows us to put an end to situations like the one Katie was in.  Poor, precious girl.  How hard is it to brush a child’s teeth?  And not even once a day, once a MONTH would suffice to prevent the type of buildup and decay she had.  And yet somehow… the people charged with the care of these children think it’s okay.  It’s not.  It’s not okay and it never will be.  Poor little ones.  

    Do you think, if somebody sent them a large shipment of child-sized toothbrushes and baby-safe toothpaste, that they’d get the message?  (note sarcasm… because somehow, I pretty much doubt it.) 

  23. Haley says:

    Oh, so glad it took only 15 minutes. Praise!

    She is so cute! I love the cheeks she is getting! I saw you posted a couple weeks ago that she is 19 lbs now (hard for me to fathom, my 8 MONTH old is -also 19 lbs), is the approaching a healthy weight for her length? 

  24. Valerie says:

    I thought of this as I was reading your post today.
    “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”(Proverbs 31:8-9)

  25. Autumn says:

      Many times you have brought me to have tears in my eyes, today, you made them run everywhere! Everything about the ordeal has floored me but this one, it just broke the camel’s back. I read from another post Katie about her biology class…I then proceeded to cry more. I remember being stradled with that genetic tree thing in my own pregnancy. I got up and walked out. I refused to do any more of it, I refused any testing and calmly stated that I would be blessed with whatever God gave.
     Yes, I am angry too. Hurt that people can do this..and sleep at night, that people still do this!
     And in just 15 minutes, it was all washed away for your baby..for that I am grateful, and for that I am angry at the same time. 
     So glad it was not too devastating she is so beautiful! I love the life that shine out through her eyes!

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