Three gifts for you today

December 27th, 2016

Still thriving as a family…still exhaling a sigh of relief from blogging, still don’t have any words of significance springing up within me to be written, still in a quiet place of waiting, listening, and learning, BUT occasionally missing the interactions you’ve shared with me in the past, AND have three things to give you today.

      1.  The following article, Past Still Haunts Bulgaria’s Disabled Children, will prepare you to hear about a pressing need in Pleven.  The reporter interviewed me via Skype and included footage from that interview in the video embedded in THIS ONLINE ARTICLE.  When the time comes to tell you about the need in Pleven, there’s a treat in store for you–many Pleven adoptive parents have graciously shared before-and-after photos of their beautiful children for this upcoming post.
      2. Adam Boroughs, the nurse and adoptive dad who traveled with us when we brought Katie home five years ago, recently wrote down his memories of that adventure and published them on his blog in three parts, PART ONE, PART TWO, and PART THREE.  He has a way with words, and what a tremendous gift it is to be allowed a glimpse into Katie’s homecoming story through his eyes.
      3. A few photos of Josie, with a deep gratitude to God and to those of you who helped bring her into our family just before Christmas, 2015.

Josie a year ago~



Happy one year home day to you…



Happy one year home day to you…



Happy one year home day, dear Josie…



Happy one year home day to you!









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10 Responses to “Three gifts for you today”

  1. Joni says:

    Thank you for sharing – yes, three gifts! Blessings to you and yours in the coming year!

  2. KMT says:

    I just read Adam’s blog posts. Sometimes jumped out at me immediately. I don’t know where to put it in my heart and mind. The picture of you with Katie on your lap in your first trip – she is wearing footed overalls with ties at the shoulders. Two weeks ago, I came across a pattern for those exact overalls as I was organizing my sewing room. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Years and years ago, my church made those overalls to “send to orphanages” overseas. We were to use durable fabrics, not soft knits, and I made several pairs out of a fabric very similar in color and print to those Katie is wearing. So close, in fact, I had to look twice to see if it was the exact same (I still have some of the fabric left). I’m glad we provided clothes for the children of Pleven and other places, I’m sure. But what a small, small need to fill when they were dying of starvation and neglect. I’m so glad that steps have been taken to help the Pleven children and other children in such grave and desperate need. I know that there is still so much more to do and I hope and pray that the work continues.

  3. Missy says:

    Thanks for the pictures. Those “little boys” aren’t so little anymore! Happy Anniversary to Josie!

  4. Cassandra says:

    My oh my, time marches on, doesn’t it? I see that Miss Josie is approaching her hair length goal :) It’s as obvious as can be that she has landed softly right where she was meant to be. Honestly, I can practically see the love and devotion on the face of your daughter with whom Josie shares a bedroom.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – (for naysayers I preface this by saying once basic needs are met), there is hardly a greater gift we can give our children than a sibling.

    The opposite of a great gift is not fewer siblings because even if there is a single child, early on parents can facilitate friendships that are as real and dear as a sibling. Especially for those of us who adopt, it is easy to believe that real family does not mean shared DNA.

    I get that my experiences have informed me differently but I cannot relate to how hard a heart must be to intentionally neglect a child. I mean, how do these orphanage employees reconcile that in the dark, middle of the night? Do they even dare to believe that these are real people?

    How is Verity? I know you were doing specific programming to engage and move her skill set forward. Do you think about her future often or prefer to stay in the here and now?
    Personally, it’s when I think about my children’s future that I become anxious. In our family we decided to select a “word” for the year. A word that we will dwell upon. Playful, organized, committed, prayerful – anything at all. Mine is fearless. It is a repeat of my last year word so I guess I don’t feel mastery yet :)

    Susanna, please post again when you see fit. Know that I enjoy reading about your life and thoughts and do not expect every post to be inspirational (though it does seem to end up that way)

  5. Hi Cassandra! How nice to hear from you! Yes, Josie’s hair is fully grown out now…just as she wants it.

    Verity. We’re thinking a multi-faceted approach would be most helpful for her. In addition to the one hour of ND program she does each week day supplemented with the Gemiini program, I started her on a series of preschool workbooks along with Ben in September. We also recently added traditional OT and ST back in for Verity weekly, and best of all, a mother’s helper is now coming twice a week and working with her one on one on various skills and fun activities. Her language ability and social skills are coming along. She tolerates so much more of what formerly caused meltdowns and other negative behavior. Another area of progress is in her toileting. No more little potty, very few reminders, minimal supervision. We’re really pleased and proud at every sign of further progress we see in her. I go back and forth about enrolling her in school. I’m just not convinced that even the best situation there will be better than what we can provide at home, and I’m fairly sure that I would have to fight pretty hard to make sure the district would provide the situation that would be best for her there. No, I don’t put a lot of time into planning for her adulthood at this point, other than keeping a long range view of her skills and character as I do for all the children.

    Thank you for sharing your word for 2017. Mine is “quietness.”

  6. Cassandra says:

    Quietness as in solitude or silence?


  7. Susanna says:

    Cassandra, as in silence. Although solitude helps, and I do receive that gift gladly from time to time. Just need to do more listening and learning than talking right now.

  8. Emily says:

    Hello, Susanna!
    I haven’t read your blog in awhile, but I was thinking about you and Katie today. I’m in Ukraine with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) working in orphanages. We went to an institution for adults with special needs. It was very eye-opening to see the pictures from your blog and others come into a reality. I wanted you to know how God really used Katie’s story to inspire me to come to EE countries to work in the orphanages. I came back to the blog today and WOW Katie has really grown! How is she doing physically and mentally?

  9. Susanna says:

    Emily, wow! Thank you so much for coming back to tell me this!

    Katie is in a stable and peaceful place right now, and I am so grateful for this! She made an enormous amount of physical progress during her first year or so home, and also made some emotional and developmental strides. She seemed to plateau a bit over the next couple of years and then had one very tough year or so, but is back in a positive place again now.

    Her primary issues are with cognitive, behavioral, sensory and attachment. She is about at an 18-24 month developmental level. She has many stimming behaviors when she has time to herself, such as in her bed, on the potty or on the bus. She is still very easily over-stimulated by auditory input, which tends to overrule her better judgment unless someone is right there calming her and talking her through it. She is affected by the disinhibited form of RAD, and that more than anything else impacts her everyday life as well as the people around her. She has abnormal, seemingly uncontrollable visceral reactions to the close proximity of other people. She still has times, especially when she’s tired or overstimulated, when she still acts desperate to the point of tears and loud whining when she’s not allowed to follow her inappropriate impulses to get up close and physical with other people.

    Right now, she is reaching out to me more than she has ever done before for affection, and is back to being happy to see me coming rather than otherwise, which is just the best! During that one rotten school year, she was ticked off to see me coming and thumbed her nose at me when with others because I was the only one who was consistently holding her to an appropriate standard of behavior. Sort of a, “See, THEY let me do it!”

    Physically, she is doing very well! Other than a tendency toward upper respiratory congestion and ear infections, she has been in good health. She is walking increasingly steadily. She has a couple of word approximations and a few signs, but seems to have hit her ceiling with communication for the time being. She is doing better with independently feeding herself finger foods, less tendency to put her hands into her lap after each bite and need to be physically prompted to reach for each next bite.

    She is in a new classroom this year with a very experienced teacher and it has been a wonderful change! She is slowly making some progress again. The previous year was worse than a total waste–the only thing she learned was what she could get away with–hitting, throwing, biting, very minimal cooperation. She loves a lot of things–going places, school, music and really any noises, Signing Time, anything to do with water, birthday parties and especially birthday cake, swinging, sliding boards, and I know there’s more that’s not coming to mind right now. Thanks for asking!

  10. Emily says:

    Progress of any sort is great! I’m glad Katie’s doing well. Being here and visiting the orphanages I’m especially grateful that she’s in such a wonderful home! Thank you for the update, I will keep praying for you guys!

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