March 12th, 2014

Seventeen years ago, a baby boy was born.

For his first sixteen birthdays, there was no party.

There was nothing in between his birthdays, either.

There was just…


Look closely at the photograph below.  Do you see the baby in white lying in the middle of the picture?  His head is shaved.  See him?  Recognize him?

That’s our boy, but he wasn’t a baby.  He’d already spent eleven birthdays lying in the nothingness of his orphanage.  Helpless, ignored, hungry, nothing to look forward to, nobody to love him.

He didn’t belong to anyone and he knew it.



This week, Tommy had his seventeenth birthday.  His first birthday party.

He spent his first sixteen years in Pleven, but he did not belong to Pleven.


For two months, our adoption agency has held the file of another special little boy in Pleven.


Mikah 2014 (13)


But two months have gone by, and not one family has inquired about adopting Mikah.

It would be very easy for me to feel like I’m failing Mikah, because I’m unable to be online as I was previously.  By the time my work is done at night, my brain and my eyes can barely focus on simple tasks.  Well, I may have to blog less than I used to, but that doesn’t mean I love this little boy any less!  It certainly doesn’t mean he’s less of a treasure than any of the other sweet little ones in Pleven!

It does mean that Mikah is going to need lots of help from all of you!!

Please stand up and speak up for this little child who cannot stand and speak on his own behalf!  Please help Mikah’s family find him by sharing his photo and his need in any way you can!

Mikah has been waiting in Pleven for too many years.  One by one, the other little children around him on the top floor–Sophia, who was in the crib next to his and has been home for almost two years, Tommy, who for years could see Mikah from a few feet away, and Ethan a few cribs over, who is almost the same age as Mikah but is now thriving at home with his family–went home to their families.  Over sixty-five children in his orphanage have been going home to the families where they belong.

But Mikah is still waiting for a family to belong to.  He knows he doesn’t belong in Pleven.  This boy knows!!

Where is Mikah’s family?  Where does he belong?


One of my Bulgarian friends emailed me,

“Mikah’s doing SO well after Dr. Georgieva got there and she is taking great care of him. He is progressing and she thinks he’s going to progress a lot into walking, speaking and having a pretty normal life.”

Here’s what Shelley Bedford, Bulgaria specialist with the About A Child adoption agency, wrote about Mikah,

“He is a cuddle bug and LOVES attention from caregivers and visitors. He’s now attending a ‘school’ class, receiving therapy and making developmental progress. I have photos and videos that were taken very recently. He needs a family willing to look past his age and the years of neglect and see the precious little boy who is waiting on a family to help him reach his full potential.”


I agree with Shelley.  Mikah is one of the children in Pleven I met more than once and most recently when we picked up Tommy last June.  He’s looking so much healthier than the first time I saw him in his bed near Tommy.  He’s an alert child who has so much potential for making progress!

Please, friends, pray that God will open wide the hearts of Mikah’s family and give them a fierce love and determination to be the place where he belongs.

If you think you may be his family, please email Shelley Bedford at for videos and more information.

Mikah 2014 (12)



After Tommy’s first birthday party was over, all the gift wrap cleaned up and all the little children kissed by Grandpa and Grandma and tucked into bed, I looked through the scores of photos Joshua had taken of the evening.

And was blown away by a certain something that I missed in all the happy noise and confusion of a Musser family birthday.

Tommy doesn’t understand about being seventeen years old, and he doesn’t understand about birthdays.

So much understanding has been stolen from Tommy.  His brain was very, very hurt by too many long years of nothing.



But he does know we love him.

He knows we will take care of him.

He knows we want him to be happy.

He knows he belongs.

This week, he learned quickly that presents covered with paper can hold fun surprises that are just for him!

And that it all had something to do with the words he heard over and over for the first time in all his seventeen years,

“Happy birthday, Tommy!”


[Now follows a very long sequence of photos.  Do you see what I saw?]









































“And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”




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19 Responses to “Belonging”

  1. Jen says:

    Happy birthday, Tommy! :-)
    The Thayers!

  2. Missy says:

    I see Tommy very clued into the moment. His fine motor looking pretty good for ripping and tearing. I see you efficiently dodging elbows and hands. I see Katie focused on Tommy and touching her brothers. I see every person happily involved with Tommy’s joy. No more being alone.

  3. Paul says:

    Happy Birthday Tommy!!!! It is amazing to stop and think about the things we just assume are normal experiences, such as birthdays.  Fanny has one coming up soon. She most likely had some B’day recognition in the foster home so the experience may not be as foreign to her, but for Penny this coming December will be her first B’day celebration as well.  Thanks for sharing this event with us.

  4. Paula says:

    This last pic, brought tears to my eyes. I see Tommy making supreme eye-contact with you. He is staring at you right in the eyes! and he’s very focused on riping and tearing his brithday presents. He may not know what a B’day is intellectualy, but he does know, deep in his heart. And he’s happy! he belongs! 

  5. Blessed says:

    I love the photos where he is not smiling–because the look in his eyes is so focused, so alert, you can really see the gears working. He really looks like he is taking it all in–and that is so beautiful.

  6. elisabeth says:

    Happy Happy birthday beautiful Tommy!!!   Love these photos! And I love how most of the photos alternated between happy smiles from you and Tommy to you dodging his excited hands holding his new things!  So fun.    Praying for beautiful Mikah’s family to see him, he is a beautiful child.  no doubt God already has a family picked out for him, maybe they just don’t yet know it.

  7. Galit says:

    How much has he grown?  He looks so much bigger than the “toddler” you brought home last year!

  8. Deanna says:

    Happy birthday Tommy Musser!  I love how interested he is in each of the packages, and Miss Katie too!  She is so cute.  She is very interested in what Tommy might be opening!  Looks like Tommy’s younger brothers were pretty interested as well!
    Fun times!

  9. Lori (Maine) says:

    Happy Birthday, Tommy!! I praise God that you are HOME with your forever family and can experience on a daily basis being CHOSEN, WANTED and LOVED!!

  10. Jen Johnson says:

    Happy Birthday, Tommy!!!!!!!!

    I see Tommy having fun!!   I see a family celebrating  life!!!!!

  11. Wanda says:

    Happy Birthday Tommy !!!! What a beautiful and loving family ! Thank you so much sharing pictures , it is such great joy that you allow us to be a part of your family ! I love you Susanna

  12. Lorena says:

    How beautiful to see him “in family” – belonging, and smiling.  Thanks for taking the time to share his day with us!

  13. Jane says:

    It is so amazing to see him where he belongs.  God bless you all and Happy Birthday dear dear Tommy!

  14. Melissa says:

    He is focused, he is using his hands, and he is HAPPY! I know you said at one point that when he is overwhelmed, he responds with what looks like being happy and excited, but I would like to think that this is genuine. Somewhere, he knows that this is not the bad place–people talk with him, they teach him, they hug him and kiss him and care for him, they feed him, they smile at him–this is NOT the bad place and he LIKES it!  I also see Katie being very interested in what is going on…which is great!  But the biggest thing I see is LOVE! :)

  15. Holly D. says:

    Happy Birthday, Tommy!!  I looked at the photos and didn’t see what I thought you saw. Then, the second time, it dawned on me and tears filled my eyes; not sure if this is the same thing you saw, but I saw Tommy opening up his gifts and taking out the presents-then I saw Tommy open up his gift and actually try and remove the gift from the package.  He knew that toy had to be removed from the cardboard packaging!!!! Then it looked like he actually tore it out of the packaging and was so proud of himself.  Way to go, Tommy!  This is a huge accomplishment for him to know this, isn’t it?  I am dying to know what you actually saw though. Was it the same thing or something else?????

  16. Susanna says:

    Holly, he did totally catch on to the whole gift thing! So fun to see! But what I saw was the bigger picture of what is really happening, and I so often miss it in the rush and crush, the down and dirty of everyday life here. It’s just what I wrote in the post–

    “…he does know we love him.

    He knows we will take care of him.

    He knows we want him to be happy.

    He knows he belongs.

    Inasmuch as it sure feels most of the time like It’s Not Working, God is accomplishing what He intends to accomplish and therefore, It Is Working.

  17. Susanna says:

    Galit, he has gone from a size 4/5 to a size 6/7 in 9 months. :)

  18. Inga says:

    Congratulations on all Tommy’s progress!  Your last 2 sentences were so encouraging to me!  I adopted my now 8 yo son when he was nearly 6, and I was his 5th Mama.  He has special needs, although not as severe as Tommy’s.  Many days I cannot see the progress, I only see how far we still have to go.  But when I  have time to think about it, I remember how far we have come!  I need to remind myself constantly that what I want my son to achieve actually doesn’t matter.  I need to allow God to direct our  goals and our progress.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I see joy in those pictures.  It doesn’t matter what he understands, he processes and receives love and joy.  Again I said what a miracle, but I say that often and I say that about every child from that place, including my own.  Even though our next adoption is NOT from Pleven, I cannot wait to see the transformation of Kally.  Thank you for sharing Tommy’s  birthday pictures!

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