Great is thy faithfulness

April 17th, 2012

Question:  Is everything okay?  Where have you been?

Answer:  I’ve been up in the attic, enjoying the prosaic, biannual task of switching to the next season’s clothes.  And the attic is–finally!–back in a decent state of organization.  Too late to impress the poor lady who came to appraise our home two weeks ago.  <grin>

Having the blog and related email account go completely down gave me a little break from the computer, but now that Joseph’s given the okay, I’ll have to beg your patience!  If you’re waiting for an email from me, it should come–Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise!

If you still haven’t heard from me by the end of next week, could you please re-send your note?   Thank you for understanding!

You may have noticed that some photos are missing from earlier blog posts.  They will have to be replaced manually, a time-consuming job that will happen as Joseph can manage it.  If you need photos for a presentation, and cannot find them on the blog, please email me at


The end of our family’s endurance marathon is in sight.

Joshua finished with his temp job a couple of weeks ago, Daniel’s last day at his temp job was yesterday, and our academic year also comes to an end next Wednesday, the 25th.  Unless God has a different plan, we’ll have more breathing space after that.

It has not been an easy time!  But God faithfully sent just the help we needed to enable us to stay the course, just as He promised to do.  There’s a blog post in the works to give you a little glimpse of how He’s been doing this.

We’re grateful for how perfectly He timed our transition/hibernation time with the cold weather.  Now the warm weather is returning, and Katie’s ready to go places!  Today–her first Musser family field trip!

[Note:  To those of you who mentioned the lack of photos of others in the family–they’re coming…]


I have so much to tell you about our two little sweet morsels, but since it’s not as urgent, it too will have to wait.

Katie especially has been bursting into bloom over the past couple of weeks.  We are watching the real Katerina come to life!

Okay, I’ll leak one small piece of news.  She’s now wearing size 3T and counting!  Remember that she wore a size 12 month and was smaller than Verity when we brought her home?  


The towering effect isn’t quite so obvious in this shot~


Note Katie’s hand~



Now for some news…

…sad news first…


Sweet Harmony is no longer available to be adopted internationally.

She’s still available to be adopted within her own country, and someone there will be advocating for her.  As long as she is not adopted, God will be faithful to keep His promise to be a Father to her.

Another adoptive mom wrote to me, “We’ve been told that Harmony is in a good place, nothing like Eastern European institutions, and will be well cared for. [Her country] has a Christian group home for aged-out kiddo’s with special needs and we are praying specifically that Harmony will be chosen to go there after her schooling is finished if she is not adopted locally. Lots of hope left! God has not forgotten Harmony and neither will we.”

We are grieving with friends of ours who lost their two-year-old baby girl, “E,” in a tragic accident.  The sorrow is nearly overwhelming.  This precious girl and her mom (and big brother with an extra chromosome) first came into our family’s story over two years ago, when “E” was a tiny infant.  Her family is trusting in the faithfulness of the Lord, but it will be a long and painful road to walk.


Question:  How much money was raised in the April Hidden Treasures auction?

Answer:  Amy Rainey reports that when all the money is in, there should be over $3000–a record for the Hidden Treasures auctions.  Thank the Lord for again blessing the efforts of so many kind helpers!

Amy has announced the recipient family for June–the Booth family adopting little Makayla.


Question:  Did I see some new children from Pleven on Reece’s Rainbow?

Answer:  Yes, you did!  According to the latest information I have, there are six children from Pleven who are available for adoption and do not yet have families committed to them.

Six more hidden treasures waiting to be found…pray, pray, pray that the Help of the helpless would send families to love them and commit to adopt them!


“Gabby” turns three years old this year~



“Mickey” turns five years old this year~



“Sam” turns five years old this year~



“Sarah” turns six years old this year~



“Alyssa” turns nine years old this year~



“Shawn” turns ten years old this year~




Question:  What’s the new Chip-In button all about, the one that says, “Nurses/babas for Pleven?”

Answer:  The children in the Pleven baby house have two urgent, immediate needs that we can help to meet.

1)  Specialized formula and people who are willing to carry it to Bulgaria.

A thorough explanation of the needed formulas can be found at the bottom of this post.  If any of you have extra, unexpired cans of special formula such as Vivonex Pediatric, Elecare, and Neocate, and are are willing to pay to ship it to a traveling family, please email Shelly Burman at, and she will connect you with a family who is traveling to Bulgaria.

Also, if you are planning to fly in to Sofia, Bulgaria, at any point during the months ahead, please email Shelly at her email address above.

2)  Nurses and babas to ensure that the formula is being administered properly, and proper care is being given to the children according to Prof. Lilova’s instructions.  One Heart Bulgaria, the non-governmental organization who has agreed to help us, provides close supervision and accountability for the nurses and babas they hire.

They can put nurses in place as early as the end of this month if the funds are there.  A nurse costs $175 a month, and a baba costs $125 a month.  Are you part of an exercise group?  A mom’s group?  Bible study group?  Sunday School class?  The list could go on and on.  This would be a great way for folks in your group to pool resources and make a big difference!

The nurses/babas fund goes through One Heart Bulgaria, and 100%  of what is given will go directly to pay the salaries of nurses and babas for Pleven.

These are URGENTLY needed, as it is imperative that expert help is right there to see that each child is fed the proper formula in the way prescribed by Prof. Lilova.  As soon as there is enough in the fund, One Heart Bulgaria will hire two nurses for the top floor of Pleven, and then expand from there.


Question:  Does the donated formula have to be high in calories?

Answer:  My friend Dr. Elizabeth DeHority answered this one thoroughly:

“First of all, I think I’d not call it high calorie.  It’s not any higher in
calories than any other formula unless you mix it to make it so. The doctor can
prescribe the very best calorie per milliliter ratio for each child, and these
powdered formulas can be perfectly adapted for each child’s needs.

Children with long term, severe malnutirion are often unable to efficiently
digest and metabolize many foods. When a child comes to the US and is treated
for profound malnutrition, they are usually fed IV for quite a while at the
beginning, with oral or tube feedings starting very slowly. Unfortunately, that
is a luxury these children don’t have. The next best thing is carefully
monitored feeding with very specialized formulas. Formulas such as Vivonex
Pediatric, Elecare and Neocate are called “elemental diets” because each
ingredient, the proteins, fats and carbohydrates, are broken down into the
smallest, simplest possible elements. They are also manufactured under the
strictest controls, just like medicines, so every gram has the absolutely
accurate amount of each component.

The malnourished child’s body has to do NO WORK to digest these formulas. 100 %
of the ingredients can be absorbed and used for metabolism, healing and growth.
Because the doctors know exactly how much of the formula is going to be able to
be used by the sick child (100 %) it is possible to very precisely prescribe the
exact amount needed each day, or even each hour.

Refeeding hypophosphatemia is a truly frightening syndrome that can happen to
anyone who has malnutrition and then is given calories. Obviously, these
children are at higher risk than, for example, you or I would be after a crash
diet or being sick for a while. Therefore, it is essential that when they begin
to be fed, that they are fed carefully and with the utmost precision.

These highly specialized metabolic, elemental formulas are perfect for this
situation. They are not recommended by the World Health Organization for
treatment of starvation because they are amazingly expensive, and in countries
with many starving children, they can’t be found at any price. But they are the
very best enteral (meaning “using the gastrointestinal system”) feeding option
for children who are very fragile.

Another question I’m often asked is this: Do these children need to stay on
these special formulas once they’re home? Probably not. Once they are stable,
safe, and growing, the very most healthy option is eating real food. Sad to
say, a certain percentage of these children may never be able to eat enough
regular food to be healthy and grow. They may end up needing to be tube fed
long term. Children who have an underlying enzyme deficiency or are missing a
large portion of their intestines may require a lifetime of these elemental
formulas. But most children who continue to need formula can, and should,
eventually be on a formula that’s as close as possible to real food. Each
child’s doctor will make that decision as the child heals and grows.”

~Dr. Elizabeth DeHority


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30 Responses to “Great is thy faithfulness”

  1. Melissa Barker says:

    Hi Susanna,
    I can’t find an email address on your blog so hope you don’t mind me leaving a comment here.
    After hearing about the Institute in Pleven and the horrible treatment of these children I decided to put together quite a large fundraiser event.  I am in Tasmania, Australia.
    I will be donating all funds raised to One Heart Bulgaria to help with the hiring of nurses, transportation costs and other supplies that are desperately needed.  I am currently looking for sponsorship from local and Statewide businesses in Tasmania.  I am hoping that you might be able to forward to me any information (personal and professional) as well as any photo’s of Katie (or other children that you think might help me in securing sponsorship.  I will be running T.V commercials advertising my event and would like to include photo’s of Katie with your permission?
    I hope this is all ok with you, I am hoping to get this up and going asap and have a goal of raising $20,000. (We’ll see how we go getting there!)
    I would love to hear from you and find out more about your personal experience with the Pleven institute.
    Mel x 

  2. Lorena says:

    Very informative post – good to see the site back up!  I was wondering, does the “nurses/babas” Chip-in button also go towards getting formula, or just nurses and babas?  Do you know what percent of donated money ends up paying for those things (assuming some is needed for overhead, etc)?  Also, would you say that this is the top need right now, or are there more urgent needs?  Thank you!

  3. April Sanders says:

    Could you email me?
    I have a question concerning an adoption fair this weekend.

  4. Leean says:

    The picture of Katie and Verity laughing just made my day.  How cute!

  5. Danielle M. says:

    Praying here for the family of E. also.  They were involved in the co-op that we have the boys do sports thru, so we had heard of it that way, so tragic and sad.  I can’t believe how big Katie is growing.  Hooray. 

  6. Holly F. says:

    Congrats on 3t clothes Katie!  You are quite bigger than Verity now!!  :)  Congrats on finishing the task in the attic!  I grew up with three siblings and changing season clothes was a huge task…can’t imagine for a bigger family. 

    I’m so sorry to read of your friend’s loss.  My prayers are with her.

    I’m sad that Harmony is no longer available for overseas adoption but I am encouraged to read she is in a safe place with care and education. 

    My son was on Elecare for two and half years.  We are finally off (Praise God!)  It is an amazing formula.  I donated cans to Shelley but they were expiring soon so they probably did not help the cause  :(    Sometimes, an insurance company will pay for the formula if it is proven as a medical need…just FYI for those children that are adopted and need to remain on it.  WIC can supply it for children under 5 with a doctor’s script. 

    My son actually filmed a success story with the brand Elecare.  As you seem to be a point of contact Susanna for some many people, please keep my name in mind.  I have contacts still within the domestic branch of the company.  Perhaps I can beg them for those children in need when the children come home.  I already begged for donations for the orphange but was told it would be the international branch’s decision.  It was sent to that branch for review but I haven’t heard anything back.  :( 

  7. Holly F. says:

    Forgot to add:  I saw the added children over the weekend.  Clapped loudly! 

  8. Missy says:

    Oh my, our Katie is HOLDING Verity’s hand! There have been many pictures of Verity touching or holding Katie but this one is a first of Katie being comfy with her little sister. Thanks to God. Has Katie been to church? Is she dealing with new sights and sounds? In the picture of the girls on the rug, Katie is sitting so straight that I had to look for a supporting hand. Your family has worked so hard with her and I am so happy.

  9. Anne says:

    I thought you would like to know that I forwarded the info on Harmony to a couple that lives in her country and I asked them to pray and spread the word over there.

  10. Carol says:

    I just saw Mickey and Shawn are on MFFM!
    I hope you had a wonderful family field trip!

  11. Johanna says:

    Hi Susanna & family,
    I live in Italy and would like to donate some formula (and potentially raise some additional funds from other people or even see if I can get some local company to donate their products to get as much of it as possible to Pleven). Could you please contact me when/if possible to discuss shipping the formula to Bulgaria and also which would be the best formula to get hold of here in Europe?
     Kisses to your beautiful princesses,

  12. Rita from Spain says:

    O MY GOODNESS! 3T???? Before I even read about it, I saw the photo and IMMEDIATELY noticed how BIG Katie seemed next to Verity – somerthing I remember NOT seeing…But of course, Katie IS 9 yrs old!!!
    Awesome and amazing what love and family and good food and fresh air can do..Susan I also find sooooooo tedious changing the clothes each season….ugh….
    As fro Harmony, I am so sorry but am gald to hear that people are advocating for her in her country….
    I can not wait to hear your update about the girls and your family and how things are going…without a doubt, things must be challenging….but so filled with joy as well…..
    HUgs to all….and thank you for taking the time to blog…: )

  13. Rita from Spain says:

    OH yes and I hope the field trip went great!

  14. Susanna says:

    Anne, BLESS YOU!!!

  15. Susanna says:

    Holly F, thank you so much for following up on that formula! If/when they respond generously, could you please email Shelly Burman directly? She is handling this side of things and doing a fine job of it, too. :)

  16. Susanna says:

    Emailing you, April Sanders…

  17. Susanna says:

    Lorena, this is an excellent question, and I will edit the post to include the answer.

    The nurses/babas fund goes through One Heart Bulgaria, and ***100%*** of what is given will go directly to pay the salaries of nurses and babas for Pleven.

    These are URGENTLY needed, as it is imperative that expert help is right there to see that each child is fed the proper formula in the way prescribed by Prof. Lilova. As soon as there is enough in the fund, One Heart Bulgaria will hire two nurses for the top floor of Pleven, and then expand from there. We are so excited about this!

  18. Susanna says:

    Melissa Barker, WOW. Bless you! Emailing…

  19. Susanna says:

    Missy, Katie is doing fabulously well with new/strange places and people now, and is even willing to use strange bathrooms (her final holdout)! She had a blast on our field trip yesterday and is a great traveler!

  20. Susanna says:

    Johanna, thank you so much!!! Emailing you…

  21. sabrina says:

    Wow, Katie is growing so well! She is absolutely beautiful! Great job getting your clothes out…I’ve been procrastinating getting that done for our crew.

    I’m also glad to hear that Katie is doing so well in new places, and I’ll be praying for the Pleven children. 

  22. Jennifer says:

    I saw in the store today that Neocare (I think thats the name) is made by Similac. I continue to receive $5 coupons, that can be combined to use a few coupons on one can, from Similac. I would be happy to mail these to someone who could then purchase the formula as I’m not in a position to be able to help by purchasing the formula. Please let me know and I will mail them whenever I receive them. I have 5 $5 off coupons on my counter right now!

  23. Anna T says:

    I LOVE the pictures of Verity and Katie (especially holding hands, how cute!)!  YEA for Katie’s growth — woo, hoo!!  I’m so excited that things are changing for the better as well at Katie’s former orphanage (that has been one of my prayers from the beginning, for changes to occur in the countries/orphanages similar to the changes in the US).  Sad news that sweet Harmony is no longer available for international adoption, but, I’m glad that they have a “good” home AND (better yet), the possiblity of being adopted locally (one of our friends is adoptiong a 16 year old daughter in the US).  I’m curious where you went on your field tripa nd I’m glad that Katie enjoyed herself.  ((Hugs)) and prayers!! 

  24. We hope to commit to Sarah as soon as our boys have court, Tom is visiting her this week.

  25. maria says:

    Hi.  I was wondering where you get all the beautiful clothes for Verity and Katie.  Do people donate them to you or do you buy them.  The girls always look adorable.

  26. Susanna says:

    Maria, thank you! We think they’re adorable, too, no matter what clothes they’re wearing. I love to dress them nicely as another way to highlight the value of their lives. It’s one of my ways of saying, “Children with Down syndrome are beautiful!”

    We live in an area that is rich in affordable resources. We’re blessed with many excellent second-hand stores within half an hour of our home. Our family is well supplied with clothing simply by shopping the sales at thrift stores and accepting hand-me-downs from friends, so our family’s clothing budget is extremely low. A few very kind people sent us new clothes when Katie came home, similar to the way very kind people will do when a new baby is born–to celebrate the new addition to the family. We appreciated these very much, and even more so the LOVE which stands behind the gifts. People have been SO loving to our girls that it makes me choke up to try to talk about it.

  27. Sharon Robbins says:

    I put out a plea on our local Foster Parent Facebook page about leftover formula last night and already have 7 cans of Neocate donated :)

  28. Sharon Robbins says:

    Ooops!  Just saw the post to contact Shelly about formula!  Doing that now.

  29. Susanna says:

    Sharon, wow! Thank you so much!!

  30. Sasha Bliss says:

    Susanna, I recognize one of the little girls from when I went to Pleven.  Alyssa is a very sweet girl and she was also very social and happy when I met her.  I hope she finds a family soon and the rest of the kids too.

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