Photo journal: Wednesday

January 22nd, 2013

After all the excitement on Tuesday, we want to give Tommy (and his teacher!) a break on Wednesday morning.

And anyway, we have a big date to keep with a toy store!

After seeing the little that the teacher of Tommy’s “school” class had to work with, and observing the developmental level of each of the children, we obtain a recommendation for a local store that carries quality developmental toys.

Can you imagine how much fun it is to wander the aisles of a toy store choosing a nice variety of developmental toys and books with these specific children in mind?  I’m so sorry we forgot to take any photos of this jaunt or its results!

It is decided that we will attend Tommy’s class just once more that week, Friday morning, to ensure that the supplies end up where they belong.



When we arrive back at the orphanage, we meet again with the director.

This time, she wants us to go through all the donations that had traveled to the orphanage with us [as free checked luggage, courtesy of the airlines] and explain the items that are less familiar to her.

The official donation receiver painstakingly writes up the items and we receive proper receipts for them.

~Three large suitcases overstuffed with clothing and bibs that meet the specifications given to donors

~A large quantity of simple, wipable baby toys with plenty of links to attach the toys to a crib or to wheelchair or stroller seatbelts to keep the toys accessible when children throw them.

~The developmental toys we had just purchased for Tommy’s classroom

~A big stack of homemade hip helper-type therapy shorts in a variety of sizes

~A feeding pump and a quantity of the feeding bags that are compatible with that particular pump

~A box full of 50 mL syringes to be used for tube feeding purposes

~Two pieces of adaptive equipment–one a Pacer Gait Trainer just like Katie’s and one a walker–that double the number of adaptive walkers in this orphanage


At this meeting, the director lets us know where we can apply the monetary donation we had brought.

She has a dream for the children.

If there were warm boots and enough coats, hats and scarves to go around, a number of the children would be able to be taken sledding on a small hill in the back yard of the orphanage.  She says that up until now, the children have just stayed indoors all winter.

She tells us that someone else had offered to buy boots and jackets, but hadn’t followed through on their offer.  So there is already a list waiting for us!  A list of the name and size of each child who will be able to be taken outside to play once he or she has boots and a coat!

Gleefulness grows inside me as I hear delightful plans being made for the next day, but the best is yet to come!

After seeing the donations of adaptive equipment and hearing our assertions that we would love to collect more needed items, the director has been giving something careful thought.  You need to know that unlike her predecessor, this director has been exceedingly conscientious with her duties and all the rules that govern her job.  Not only is she driven by compassion for the children and aware of the expectations of many faraway friends, but she is continually being watched by unfriendly eyes within the orphanage.  These eyes are watching her and hoping for a misstep in order to bring about her downfall.  Out of this backdrop, she has an offer to make.

Months before, when my therapist friend wrote to offer herself as a traveling companion, little did we guess that God had hand-picked this very experienced physical therapist with a lovely servant’s heart to be one of the pivotal keys He would use to unlock and open doors.

Her luggage containing her clothing and officially notarized and apostilled documents authenticating her professional credentials, which were already on file with Tommy’s government, had finally caught up with her the day before, to our great relief!

First thing tomorrow morning, the director says, she wants to take us through the top floor of the orphanage so that my friend can assess each child there.  During this time, she can gather the information that she would need to make recommendations for correct positioning and give other helpful advice.

But most importantly…

Out of all she learns, she will be able to make an accurate list of the specific adaptive equipment that is most urgently needed for the children so she can go back to the US with this list for donors.


We calmly say our thank yous and goodbyes to the director and float to the room where Tommy is ready to eat his appetizing-smelling three course meal.


Here’s this Mama lady again!  It must be her turn to feed me lunch!

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Faster, Mama, faster!  I’m so hungry and this is so good!

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My belly’s full now.  Time for physical therapy.  Bleh.  You can see how excited I am about this.  Mama and her friends took lots of videos, but as soon as they switched their cameras on, I stopped moving my feet one at a time and began moving them together.  I did this every time!

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Mama’s not really sure I like this lady.  She doesn’t look at me much, or talk to me, and I don’t smile at her even once.  Now…the friend who came along with Mama…!  I lit up for her right away, and did my very best for her!

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Mama’s friend got to explain the new walker and Pacer Gait Trainer to my physical therapist.  How to adjust them, which children should be using them…

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I’m pretty tired by the time my therapy session is done, and my schedule says it’s rest time now.  So a caregiver put me in bed and Mama and her friends went away to eat lunch and talk over all the news.

When I woke up, it was playtime again.  This week, I get to play with Mama and her friend instead of being put into a room with other children and no caregivers.   Sometimes nobody remembers to give us toys to play with before they go out and close the door.  It made Mama want to cry every time she saw this happen.

Mama remembered that she wanted to measure me for new clothes.  I was more interested in her tape measure.  Hmmmm, this is something new!

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When Mama was done, her friend took the tape measure and measured me for a wheelchair.  She’s measured lots of other kids for wheelchairs.   She even got to go on some missions with Wheels for the World!

Tonight Mama and her friend took me down to the baba’s room.  Mama blew a balloon up for me with beads inside.  She wondered if I’d try to bop the balloon to hear the noise it made.  But I surprised her by grasping the small balloon knot with my hands and shaking it.  I amazed her even more when I passed the balloon from one hand to the other and grasped the knot with my other hand!

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If you look at my wheelchair seatbelt, you can see the links fastened to it, holding a toy.  I figured out right away how to retrieve a toy after I’d dropped it.  Mama is impressed with my problem-solving skills!

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We had been given special permission to come to this room so Mama could see how I tolerated the ball pit.  It was a little too much for me at first and I flapped my hands and shook my legs and shrieked my pterodactyl shriek with my big smile on my face.  I’m not used to the ball pit, because my baba gave it a try for a few minutes once and didn’t put me in it again.

But after a while, I mellowed and focused on a book.

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Mama hopes to be back soon to tell you more about Thursday, the most incredible day of this week.

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She tells me that even if nothing else had happened this week, that her heart was filled up because she finally got to be with me.  She loves me, and I’m her boy with the…

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…million-dollar smile.

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18 Responses to “Photo journal: Wednesday”

  1. sabrina says:

    Oh, that smile in the last picture! Beautiful, beautiful boy! What a blessing that next time you travel to EE, you will bring Tommy home. What a blessing he is to your family!
    So happy to read about all of the positive things from your trip. 

  2. BLM says:

    Beautiful smile!

  3. Louisa says:

    We have been so blessed by hearing and seeing pictures of your journey! You are amazing and an inspiration to our family! Thank you for taking the time to share with us!

  4. Anna says:

    It sounds like the new director is a good person.
    Are there any links or contacts to things the orphanage needs or ways to buy them online in that city? My furst impulse is to bundle up outgrown winter gear and post it, but of course, it’s more ethical to spend my money on local businesses in that city. But for hats and scarves, well, knitters do like to knit. Is there any organisation arrangingthis sort of thing? Preferably not a religious one.

  5. Cinderellamommy says:

    million dollar :), indeed. What a miracle Tommy is!

  6. Holly D. says:

    Yeah, he sure does wear his million dollar smile well. Amazing how much personality is shining through just in the photos. Love how he seems to interact with you. So sad that he has suffered such unspeakable treatment for so so long. And so miraculous that he seems to have such spirit.  He seems to be snubbing the therapist…ha.. I hope she can train the babas to do some of the therapies. 

  7. Susanna says:

    Anna, thanks for asking! There was so much happening in a short period of time that week and so little time to process it, let alone do it even minimal blogging justice. I’m getting to that part of the story, and your questions will eventually be answered, but I’m writing about the week as I experienced the week. Our time there was the organic unfolding of layers of rich and complex story rather than a systematic, organized, compartmentalization of a checklist, and I’m allowing my blog readers a little taste of that. Does this make sense? It has to be a pitifully little taste, as there was so much more going on within so many different layers, I still haven’t completely processed it all, and most of the story cannot be told publicly.

    But your very good questions will be answered. :)

  8. Psalm127Mommy says:

    Oh, Susanna!  I just want to cry with happiness!  How great is our God!

  9. Kim says:

    Is that beautiful boy of yours Roma?  Our girl is :)  I have stuff to share if he is.
    Much love,

  10. Susanna says:

    Kim, that heritage is not in his records, and he was actually given a Muslim name. But I’d love to learn what you know about the Roma heritage, anyway, if you don’t mind emailing me. :)

  11. Susan says:

    So much good news! I can just see the little ones playing in the snow on the hillside, in their warm new winter attire – the orphanage director is clearly of woman of great vision and strength and commitment to see goals come true.
    Tommy’s photos just get cuter and cuter. What bright eyes, and what a winning smile! So glad he soon will be yours. I am anticipating reading the rest of your good news!
    Susan in Ky
    Cousin to 2 from EE

  12. Stephanie B. says:

    I am sitting on the edge of my chair again…

  13. Anna says:

    Great, I look forward to hearing it. 
    You can get genetic testing done very cheaply ($99 at 23andme, and probably even cheaper in the years ahead), which would give him an idea of his heritage, if and when he becomes interested in it. It would give him a maternal and paternal haplotype, like this 

    Romani people
    Haplogroup H-M82 is a major lineage cluster in the Balkan Romani group, accounting for approximately 60% of the total.[13] A 2-bp deletion at M82 locus defining this haplogroup was also reported in one-third of males from traditional Romani populations living inBulgariaSpain, and Lithuania (Gresham et al. 2001). High prevalence of Asian-specific Y chromosome haplogroup H-M82 supports their Indian origin and a hypothesis of a small number of founders diverging from a single ethnic group in India (Gresham et al. 2001).”

  14. Maureen says:

    Million dollar smile & then some :D 

  15. Gina in Spain says:

    What a smile…I am so enjoying reading your journal and can not wait for when you go to rescue him to his forever home…..You and he are so lucky to finally found each other….I hope the lil one also growing inside you is doing well too..hugs!

  16. laurie says:

    Love his personality shining through!  =)
    love laurie

  17. Brianna says:

    Susanna – the ladies in my Bible Study love to knit and crochet.  I saw that the director is wanting hats and scarves to keep the kids warm so they can go outside.  Can you give us and idea of how many they would need?  We’d love to make some so that they can be taken over when another family (maybe my parents) can take them when they go to visit their children.

  18. Susanna says:

    Brianna, thank you so much for this offer! I’ll email you with the details!

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