"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Few Fun Tidbits

* Katya seems to have recovered fairly well from the pnuemonia though she still has a slight cough that we have to keep an eye on.

* Having come home in size 3T clothing that BADLY bagged and sagged on her due to her utter lack of body fat, I'm so extremely happy to tell you that less than 6 months later Katya is now wearing size 5's and some 6's! Especially for her tops, she's outgrowing the 5s and is needing 6's.

* We are happy to report that Katya is continuing to progress in terms of obviously understanding more English, adding new ASL signs to her vocabulary, and making new letter sounds with her mouth. She obviously does struggle with many sounds and hasn't been able to make them successfully yet. We will continue to try. I'm so not ready to give up on her learning to speak! I continue to dream that she DOES speak and the wonder and joy that fill me in the dreams give me courage to keep on working with this situation while also continuing to add to her ASL knowledge.

* I really wonder what Katya will do with Christmas?? We will be having a pretty quiet and super-simple Christmas but I am looking forward to seeing what she does with her presents. We have a new Lauri puzzle for her and a giant coloring book of Winnie the Pooh. Just wish I could have found a Curious George one for her as that seems so far to be her favorite childhoold character. Ah well . . .

* This isn't so fun but it's important--Katya is now starting to grieve if the others leave and she needs to stay at home. It's not nearly always appropriate to take her to different functions due to her level of behavior, or her needing to get to bed on time so she has enough sleep to be rested for school the next day. We have never been able to get her to take a nap so cutting the night short doesn't allow her to function properly at school  Hence, we try hard to keep her on her school sleep schedule for school days. When Katya needs to stay home either with one of us or a baby sitter, she will weep quietly when she realizes that the rest have left. She will often not be consoled till the departed ones return . . . I'm going to think that it's a healthy developmental stage, much like a young baby goes through a stage where they become keenly aware of their separation from Mommy and often, Daddy! While it's hard to watch her grieving, I think it's great that she is wishing to be with the others. We know that if say just Paul and I leave and she's home with the rest of the kids she doesn't seem to mind nearly as much as if everyone leaves but her and the person caring for her. She seems to like having more people from our family around than that.

* This observation is also similar to the one above: When the SW came out a few weeks ago to make our THIRD post-placement report, Katya quickly become wary and unhappy. She clearly recognized that something was up and tried hard to avoid and ignore the stranger with the clip board. When the SW began telling us "Good-bye" and we becan repeating that back to her, Katya ran off and hid. When found by Charity, she was obviously stressed. Charity began talking soothingly to her about how she was soon going to take a bath and get her jammies and go to bed HERE at HER home and how the lady would leave but Katya would stay with Mommy and Daddy. . . Katya soon relaxed and was willing to come out of hiding. So I'm really glad to see positive signs that show she's WANTING to be with us even while I'm grieving for Katya that her little world is such a fearful place . . .

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reporting on Pneumonia

The school called me Monday about 2:45 pm, asking me to come and get Katya immediately because she was running a fever of 100.6. I grabbed the car keys and ran, calling Paul on the way there to alert him. Based on the time Katya had strep throat, I knew that this could signal the start of a mini-crisis and I wanted to give him a heads up.

When I arrived at the school and heard the rest of what they had to say and saw how listless she was, I headed with her for the car, calling the Drs office. They said to bring her in right away. So Paul met me at the house, and I ran in to alert the children. Gave Charity some fast instructions for supper and then ran back out to the van. Due to a major road being "out" on the way to our family Doctor we have a detour that snakes along and turns what is normally a 20 minute trip to his office into a good 30 minute trip.

As we were sitting in the waiting room waiting to be seen, Katya's little face kept getting more and more pink, and I began to feel very warm from the heat just radiating off her body as I was holding her in my arms. She was very listless, and I felt like I could see her just deteriorating as I was holding her. So when they got us back to a room and took her temp it didn't really surprise me when they said it was 104.  (For those of you curious about the time span--it was about 1.5 hours from the time the school took her temp till they did at the Drs office.)

The Dr. was very concerned about her, but couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong. He said she could have an infection related to her recent surgery. She could have pnuemonia but he couldn't hear any thing in her lungs--however, he did admit that she could be dehydrated, and that could prevent him from hearing the sounds.  (Katya dehydrates easily because she was never allowed to really learn to listen to her body signals in the orphanage, and because fluids were so limited and scheduled, she has a hard time knowing when and how much she should really drink).

So after some discussion back and forth and a thorough exam of all her body, he decided to go with a antibiotic shot and Tylenol in the office, and he let us take Katya home with orders to take her to the ER if she got any worse.

By the next day she was obviously feeling some better although still sick with a low grade temp. We took her back in for another check-up and this time, with her bettery hydrated, he could easily hear the noisy crackle that signals pnemonia, especially in her right lung. He told us then that he'd been within a hairs breadth of admitting her to the hospital the night before because he was so concerned about her. I'm thankful we were able to dodge that bullet!

I hate that she's on antibiotics again for the third time in less than 6 months (once for her strep throat, once for her ICP surgery due to the monitor running into her brain, and now for the pnuemonia). However, on my list of "things I will allow antibiotics for" are those things . . .  I am not a big fan of popping antibiotics for every little thing, but those are serious issues. And I have first-hand knowledge of how very, very ill people with strep and pnuemonia can get without antibiotics.

I'm not an expert, but I really wonder if having general anethesia so recently didn't perhaps make her more susceptible to pnuemonia? Also, the fact that she doesn't spend a lot of time screaming anymore, and Katya doesn't talk or sing (yet--please, God willing!) means her lungs are not getting the normal work-out that a typical person's do, leaving her likely at more risk for lung related issues.

Katya is out of school until next week. It also sounds from a little reading that I have done that this round of pnuemonia has probably pushed off her reconstructive surgery for at least 6 more weeks. I am choosing to try to trust God's timing and purposes . . . and to allow God's JOY to fill my heart and spill into our home.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I'm happy to report that I finally have access to a fully functional computer again that I can use for blogging, not just my IPAD. And guess why that is?! Kaya got OUT of the hospital--in time to eat Thanksgiving Dinner with us at The Children's House! It was a good dinner--prepared by caring volunteers who came in early this a.m. and made a full course Thanksgiving Meal!

I am really weary, and also feel like I'm still processing a lot of information and emotions. And praying already for guidance for the decisions that are ahead of us and the Doctors.

In a nutshell, it looks like Katya will probably be having cranial reconstruction surgery. Possibly fairly soon. However, I have been told several different things from several different Doctors, and Paul and I have some serious questions to ask Dr. Carson due to that, before we give the final go-ahead for this very risky surgery. We feel that if we are going to say, "Yes-put our Daughter's life at risk!"  we need to have a clear understanding of exactly what is going on. And since we were told by one Dr. that she needed surgery due to  high inter-cranial levels, and then were told by another that her levels were "all in the normal range" and she doesn't need surgery . . . WELL! You can see why we want some clarification here. I cross checked the "no surgery" Dr. on the ICP levels and what he said Katya's were fit with my own personal observations on her monitor. So I'm a bit confused, and for my own peace of mind, I need that clear understanding. Paul wants it too.

Whatever happens to Katya if we decide to go ahead with surgery, we HAVE to know that we made the best and wisest possible decision for her, based on all the info and understanding we have currently. So we are asking for prayers for wisdom for us and for Dr Carson.
On a very, very happy note, Katya was a model ICU patient, and we clearly saw God's hand in how extremely well she did! Everyone was pleasantly shocked and pleased!!! I hope to blog more about that later!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Katya playing doctor

Katya is doing well, so it's possbile she may be moved out of ICU tomorrow...either out of the hospital completely or to a regular room.

Morning Report

Mrs. Dueck (who is still suffering from the after effects of the flu) traded off with Mr. Dueck last night and Mr. Dueck spent the night in the hospital with Katya. Katya slept very well, and then woke up smiling and giggling. We (Amy and Kristina) got to Skype iwth Mr. Dueck this morning and saw Katya...she smiled wide when she saw Kristina on the screen and waved and signed I Love You twice! Mrs. Dueck will be going to trade off with Mr. Dueck sometime this morning, so please pray for both of them as they are still fighting off the sickness!!
Also continue to pray for Katya...she has been doing very well, not pulling out any wires or cords and staying very calm without sedation. Pray for this to continue over the next 3 days.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Katya's Surgery

This is from Amy.

Here are the updates in chronological order off of Facebook...

3 hours ago:
Katya in surgery. Pray!

2 1/2 hours ago:
Katya out of surgery. ICP monitor placed. Team working with her. We have not been allowed to see her yet. Pray for her as she wakes up.

1 hour ago:
Katya considered stable and relatively alert now. No Internet acess in PICU except in waiting area. So prob last update for awhile. She is currently playing with a Dora book that she can make play music and ate most of a popsicle. Paul is with her so I can get food and update, then he will leave to get food and a 30 min nap, then pick up other kiddoes who are at the C family about 20 min away from here. Thank u all for praying! I sure have seen them being answered with Katya being so peaceful even the nurses commented on how calmly she let them put her to sleep!

Here are pictures...

Waking Up

Looking at books and pictures in bed

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hi, Ho, Ho--to Baltimore We Go

Katya is to meet with Dr. Carson the afternoon of Monday, the 21st. She will then need to be at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 5:30 a.m. on the 22 for pre-surgery prep. Surgery to place the ICP monitor is expected to start around 7:30 a.m.

Katya will then be in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) until the morning of the 25th, pending no complications.

Please be in prayer for our sweetie, and for our family. It has been very hard for everyone to be split apart in multiple directions when we were looking forward to celebrating our first Thanksgiving together as a family of 7.

In addition, I have been sick for the whole last week (I think too much stress and too little sleep) and am actually still in fact, sick, though much better than I was. I could use some prayers that I would have my health and energy back as we are going to be having a really long week with very little sleep ahead of us. There are no beds or even recliners in the PICU rooms--only a straight hospital chair--and since Katya is very, very dependent on Mommy for her security and interpreting her needs, it's going to be a long, long, week. I will need God's strength to get through it even if I'm well!

Please pray that Katya will be able to feel calm and peaceful in the midst of so much that is scary for her that she doesn't understand. Pray for Dr. Carson for wisdom and for technical perfection as he does Katya's surgery. Pray for clear guidance about the next steps for Katya's health care after this monitoring.

Please feel free to follow along on the Facebook Group, "Bringing Katya Home" (link on right hand side of blog) as I am more likely to post updates on FB than to be blogging, due to time constraints.

This last week has been a really challenging one for our family in so many, many ways. Someone shared the song, "God Says You're Gonna Make It" on their FB and I listened to it. I had never heard it before, but it totally spoke to my heart and blessed me. The words keep looping around in my head ever since.

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The last few days we've seen God's promises coming true:
#1. God opened up the door so we can take along Chad who really needed to be with his parents, using close friends of Katya and Kristina's music teacher to be His hands and feet to our family  . . .
#2. I was praying about the financial impact that this trip is having on our family. Today God provided the EXACT (to the dollar!) money we need to pay for the lodging while we are there  ($20.00 a night which is VERY reasonable, but still adds up to a chunk that we needed to pray about since Paul has had so little work this fall) AND $100 from a completely different direction that was a big surprise to us,  which will help a lot with the gas! It blesses me to see God's provisions for Katya and our family!

Praise Him with me!! He is so good--all the time!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Then, and Now

This was taken at the airport, the night we returned from Ukraine. Katya was so skinny she was all bones, and very hard to hang on to. By the time this photo was taken, she was already looking some better than when we took her out of the orphanage. But she was still so very skinny that she could draw her legs completely up to her face because she had no body fat to stop her from doing it. Now, she can't do that--her tiny little tummy prevents!

Now, 4 months later, we delight in the fact that she has gone from wearing size 3T clothes (yes, you read that right--3T--and those bagged on her!) to size 5 and 6! The dress she has on below is a size six, and the tights are size 5/6!! Katya's hair has gotten thicker, longer, and glossier. Her fingernails now clip instead of tearing limply. The extra fuzz all over her body is diminishing, and she has eyebrows now and thick, long lashes. Just check out the photo that my friend, Lisa S, took of Katya with her teacher  when Lisa went as a "Substitute" Grandparent on Grandparent's Day at School!

Then, Katya had NO method of communication except for screaming--LOUDLY--for every thing. She didn't have any method of communication for something even as basic a human need as tolieting! She had no way to ask for a drink, or for food, let alone specific foods.

Now, 4 months later, Katya can and does sign, "Toliet, Hungry, Thirsty, Want, More, Owie, I Love You, Bananna, Stop, Yes, No," and a few other things. What an amazing difference that small ability to communicate has made for her! Someone recently commented to me that she was a lot like a "feral child" initially. I have to agree that there was some truth to that. But no longer! Katya knows now she is loved, and will come and press her forehead close to our mouths now to indicate she wants a kiss. She loves her nightly routine of being rocked by Mom before going to bed, and will run for her favorite afghan and bring it to the chair when she sees me heading there. Katya also is learning to write her letters and numbers at school, and can and does make some verbal letter sounds. Last night, she even combined "S" and "T" to make the "SSSTTT" sound!

Prior to entering our family, Katya really had no one making sure that she got the medical care she needed. Now, she has us. We fight hard for her and are taking her to professionals who are in tune with caring for Katya in all ways--not only physically, but also caring about what is best for her emotionally as she continues to try to adjust to life in America.

The results of Katya's MRI of her spine and brain are back in. Katya's spine is normal. There is nothing visible on the MRI that would account for the change in her gait. Her MRI shows her skull to be very vascular, meaning that her cranial reconstruction would be very risky. Dr. Carson is wanting us to come to Johns Hopkins again to meet with us, examine Katya, and then admit her to the hospital for inter-cranial pressure monitoring (ICP monitoring). Katya will be in the ICU there for 2 to 4 days. I can't imagine trying to keep her down in an ICU bed for ONE day, let alone 2 to 4, and anyone who knows her well can't either. What a challenge, and not a funy one, in this Mommy's opinion. However, after talking to others and listening to Dr. Carson's reasoning, we believe that we are doing the right thing; the logical thing.

But yeah . . . we could do with some prayers again . . . I know I'm always begging for that it seems, but we sure do appreciate them!! All kind comments are appreciated too! ;-)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Wares by Cherry"

Charity has now started her own blog in order to show-case and sell the items she crafts and sews. Please hop on over to it http://waresbycherry.wordpress.com/ and leave her a kind comment if you can! ;-) Feel free to shop as well! Bookmark it or follow it, because that is where her hand-crafted and sewn items will be from now on.

I hope to post an update and photos of Katya later this weekend if I can get a few more minutes to do so.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Katya's BIG DAY

After a very restless night at a friend's house, with Katya thrashing and falling partially off the cot (repeatedly) on one side of me, and Paul not sleeping well and doing a lot of thrashing on the other side of me in the bed, I finally fell into a very deep sleep (on the floor so I could keep pushing Katya back into her bed) right before 6:30 a.m. Not worried about the alarm going off, to wake us, since Paul had assured me he'd set it, I was started to have someone bending over me whispering that it was 7:00 a.m. and hadn't we wanted to be leaving the house by then?!

Thankfully, since our alarm did not go off, we were bailed out of what would have been a big bad problem by our hosts! We had been figuring on a 7:00 a.m. departure time giving us way plenty of time to arrive at the hospital--so even though we left the house at 7:20 a.m. (with Paul unshaven) we still got to Katya's appointment with about 15 minutes to spare! Thankfully we had good friends who functioned as our alarm when they realized that we weren't stirring.

I liked the staff I had to relate to in radiology again very much, just as I did when we were at the same place for Katya's CT scan. I found them very caring, very thorough and gentle with Katya. They were able to get the IV placed on the first try without any digging and Katya only cried a little bit right during the placement of the IV, and then again when the meds first started through she cried some due to the stinging. I was able to hold her in my arms and whisper and hum to her, and she soon went to sleep. Since it turned out that Dr. Carson had ordered an MRI of her brain as well as her spine, the procedure was anticipated to take around 1.5 hours. I decided to go wait the time out with Paul in the quiet of the cafeteria instead of in the MRI room with the noise of the MRI machine for that long of stretch of time. I'm well aware of how noisy the MRI machine is after sitting through it three times with another child of ours. Since that child was awake, it made more sense for me to stay as a reasurrance to them. With Katya, she was asleep, so after reassurances from the staff that they would DEFINITELY call me before she started to wake up, I left to do some self-care in the form of a bathroom break, and some food and water.

As it turned out, Katya's proceudre ended up taking almost an hour longer than anticpated, as she had some complications, so those last 45 minutes were really dragging and kind of made us feel a bit nervous as no one was telling us anything. I finally did go ask if they could call back and find out and they came back with a report that it would be around another 20 minutes--that there had been some complications but she was doing fine now.

The nurses were as good as their word and I was taken back to recovery while Katya was still soundly OUT. So she got to be woken up by Mommy (even then it took awhile till she was awake enough to notice I was there) and I got to be the one to try to coax sips of juice and to help her get some Goldfish crackers.

Turns out that Katya had ended up not staying sedated nearly as nice as they had thought she would. She "fought" the sedation and they had to keep redosing and finally had to add  an additional drug to the one they had started her out on to get her to stay out deep enough to get the MRI's done. Then due to her deep level of sedation, her airways were so relaxed that she kept having all the mucous from her allergies drain down her throat and make her keep coughing which messed up the MRI images, which meant they had to keep re-doing segments. I'd told the staff prior to sedation that I'd made the call the night before to give her the usual allergy meds she takes and so I hoped it wasn't a problem but I hadn't thought that having her allergies running rampant was going to be a good thing for them with anethesia. They assured me I'd made the right call--and when she was in recovery, they brought it up and said that they were sure thankful I'd done that as they wouldn't have wanted to see how it was if she hadn't had her meds! The staff ended up having to suction her lungs (poor baby) but all seemed to be well by the time they finally let her out..

Katya was wobbly and uncordinated for about 2 hours after we were discharged but they had warned us to expect that. She seemed perfectly fine (just very sleepy) by the time we put her to bed tonight, and was giggly and playful.

Some interesting things yet from the day: The staff commented several times about how surprised they were to learn that Katya had only been with us since the end of June. "She seems so very comfortable with you!" Yes, I would say her attachment is coming along nicely  . . . I've really noticed since Katya had strep throat that she is much more concerned that I be the one holding her etc. She used to obviously prefer Daddy to Mommy, and was just about equally fine with with Daddy, Charity or Mommy taking care of her. Now she obviously shows a preference for me. I'm supposing it's a healthy developmental stage at this point in Katya's life and we are happy to see that she knows Mommy is her big advocate and protector. ;-)

Katya touched Charity's arm in the car today when she wanted to get her attention that she wanted more of the snack bits Charity had been handing out to her and Chad! That is SOOO exciting to us, as she used to not seem to have any concept that a touch could direct our attention (eyes) to her so she could sign! ;-) That's a FABULOUS sign of progress! YAY! I can only seem more and more communication ahead of us!

And  . . . tonight, just being a bit goofy, I said, "Katya, you will need to brush your 'toofers' "  She turned, headed right to the bathroom and got her tooth brush and paste out! Now she's only been home since the end of June, and I didn't even know she knew what we meant if we said to brush her teeth, let alone using 'toofers' on her which is NOT what we usually say! I wish so much we knew how much English she actually understood, but it's obvious with each passing day that she really does understand more and more!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for Katya and our family . . . we will be eagerly waiting to hear what Dr. Carson and Dr. A, Katya's orthopedic Dr., say about the MRI's. Hopefully this time the news will be something that gives us hope . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nothing to Be Done

Today was another disheartening day. Katya saw the orthopedic dr. for the issues with her elbowS. Yes, that's right--both elbows have something obviously wrong with them and she has limited range of motion in both arms.

After carefully examining her, and then getting X-rays done and him studying them carefully, Dr. A. said that Katya was more than likely born with this condition. He said you sometimes see it in cases of abuse or an accident, but typically that would only be one elbow. So he was calling it a congenital issues--and the offiical Dx is "Congenital Dislocation". Dr. A. stated that surgery will not help, and that PT to try to increase her range of motion is contra-indicated. However, she can have OT/PT to try to help her find ways to adapt and compensate.

Needless to say, having this blow on top of the one about her eyes has left us reeling a bit emotionally. We want all the best for our dear sweet girlie and to have one blow after another heaped on her just doesn't seem fair . . . why should one kiddoe have so many strikes against her?

The good news in all of this I think though is that she is with us . . . and we will do every thing in our power to help her and to help her lead as typical a life as possible . . . even though she can't sign some signs "properly" due to limited range of motion, we will help her learn to adapt signs. Even though she can't zip or unzip herself, we can find clothing that doesnt' need zippers or help her if she has a zipper with cheerful hearts. We will expect lots from her, but not expect the impossible.

On a more cheerful note, the heart of Dr. A. was touched and moved as he learned bits and pieces of Katya's story and watched her interacting with us and moving around his office. When he left he said that Katya had certainly made his day and put a smile in his heart, and that he is so happy to have played a small part in her life. I know he meant it, as later when we were waiting for the final paperwork, I heard him talking down the hall to one of his nurses or techs about how "she certainly made my day--put a smile on my face!"  Yes, our little gal seems to have that effect on people! When they hear a bit of her story and watch her . . . I often see their eyes become shiny with tears, or their face gets soft and their heart touched. Sometimes I say that to know Katya is to love her . . . and I think there is a lot of truth to that.

Last week on Friday Kristina had a friend over here playing doll with her. I don't know if that is what prompted Katya's sudden interest in playing with a doll later in the evening or not, but I wouldn't be surprised! She played with one doll, and then the next for quite awhile that evening, even taking the dolly over to play the piano!

Katya was ready for bed and in her PJ's . . note how lovely her hair is becoming compared to at first!

Trying to get dolly's sleeve to stay up so she could play right!

It was so fun to watch her enjoying PLAYING something that was so just like any little six year old girl might do!
Thursday is Katya's MRI. Please be in prayer for her and ask anyone who might be willing to pray for her to pray too. Pray for peace for Katya, peace for us, and for us all to be able to cope with whatever the MRI shows or does not show  . . . pray for Dr. Carson to have God's wisdom as he tries to plot the next step in this journey for Katya.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Rough Few Days

Just a little For Your Information--brought free to you by courtesy of me. . . .

If you are wanting to bless and support a family who is parenting a special needs child, kindly don't suggest that the reason the child has some specific physical problem (which has a good, solid diagnosis already, no less) is because they are possessed with evil spirits. And should you error, and mention it, kindly don't continue to try to press your point after said parents have tried to gently and kindly let you know that while they believe God is the great Healer and could choose to miraculously heal their child,  they are satisfied that evil spirits are not causing their child's issues. Ok?? It really isn't helpful . . . not at all.

We are dealing with ENOUGH ALREADY emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually. We do not need that kind of "help", no matter how well-intentioned it is.

Do I believe that there ARE evil spirits? Absolutely. Do I believe in praying and rebuking them in Jesus' Name?? Absolutely. And I have had some occasions in some of my children's lives where I felt demonic oppression and have prayed for there to be freedom for my child in Jesus' Name. Not in a loud, public showy way that would scare the child. Just quietly and privately, between God and me. And I have seen there be changes--huge changes. But there is no need to become a paranoid "demon-behind-every-bush" person. I do not believe that clear-cut physical issues that have a certain Dx that makes all the sense that can be,  are demonically caused.

So yes, please let us know you are praying that God will miraculously heal our children if it's His will. But stop there. Just stuff a sock in it, and don't go further if you truly believe that demonic possession is causing our child's physical handicaps/illness. Keep it to yourself, and simply pray. That will help us the most.

Katya's eye exam on Monday was another emotionally draining day. Paul and I took her and I'm so glad he was with me.

Basically in a nutshell, after being examined by two residents and two fully licensed and accredited Doctors, everyone agreed that glasses will *not* help Katya see better. Since it's obvious Katya does not see well, they are strongly suspecting that what has happened is damage to the nerves that convey the information her eyes see to the brain for interpretation. They said that either cranio-stenosis AND/OR starvation could have caused the damage.

Needless to say, this has been a tough thing for our family to deal with, and tears have been shed. I personally feel very affected by it as I know how poor my own vision is, and how lost and miserable I am without my glasses. It is very hard for me to think of my little girl going through life with such poor vision as she appears to have . . . Very hard.

Katya also (no surprise) needs surgery on her eye muscles to help them but the Drs said they will not even talk about doing that surgery until she has had her cranial reconstruction, because it would be an utter failure if they attempted it prior to that.

Now in the midst of all this glum news, you might wonder, was there any GOOD news? Yes, there was. The good news is that Katya does not have as major of issues with her eyes working together as they would typically expect to see in a child with her level of cranial/facial issues. They said that means she does have less issues with depth perception and such. So that is a good thing!

And as to why she is "squinching" so much of the time recently? Her eyeballs have pushed forward so far due to the growth of her brain that she is having issues with dry eyes . . . Artificial tears are what Katya needs. That at least isn't a big issue, as long as we can get them into her eyes. After her two recent experiences with eye drops at the Drs offices, I don't think it's going to be a lot of fun getting them in several times a day! Poor girlie . . .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We Have an Appt.

Miss Katya has an appointment for the 27th, at 8:15 a.m. for her MRI.

This will be an MRI with full sedation. Please pray for wisdom for the staff who will be working with her, and that they will be sensitive to her newly adopted status and allow Mom to stay with her until she is asleep and be again with her as soon as she is out of the MRI machine. Pray that if there is a problem that is causing her gait issues that it will be clearly revealed.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And Now For an MRI

The decision has been made by Dr. Carson to have Katya get an MRI of her entire spine, due to the continuing foot-dragging and clumsy walking. Long gone are the days when we used to comment on her graceful walking and running. Now, it all looks ackward and clumsy. Poor Katya!

Dr Carson  wants to make sure that even though the gait issues started happening in conjunction with her head bulging as her brain grew, that it's not connected to anything going wrong with her spine that we aren't aware of. He said he would hate to rush Katya into surgery for her head only to discover that she still had gait issues after surgery--that were caused by something else! We agree, and feel that the MRI is a very sensible course of action, even though it means GA (general anethesia) for our wee girlie, and that is scary with her relatively uknown medical history.

We are going to choose to commit her (again) into God's hands and proceed with faith, knowing that God has kept His hand over Katya in amazing ways from the day she was conceived. We will try to update once we have a definite date and time, but it's looking like it will be either the 24th of this month or the 27th.

Next Monday we also have a very important eye appointment--that one will be to hopefully determine whether or not glasses will help improve Katya's vision (I fully expect that she WILL need them) and if so, what prescription! I feel very hopeful and excited about this appointment as Katya LOVES to have Charity's glasses put on her. Her little face lights up with alertness and joy, and she will guard the glasses with her hands so no one tries to take them back too soon, as she looks intently and eagerly around. The way her entire face, eyes and body change each time she has the glasses on, I would be SERIOUSLY shocked if glasses aren't in her best interests!

After the bout with strep throat, Katya was still pretty wiped out and had little appetite for days. But in the last few days, her appetite has come back with a vengeance and we laugh at how she tucks into food again! She's actually getting a little extra tummy, and we love it!! She's still so scrawny else where on her body (even though she is MUCH improved from her starved condition just a little over 3 months ago!) that we will continue to let her eat all she pleases of good, healthy food. We were able to pack away all her size 3T clothes a few weeks ago, and most of her size 4T. She's now wearing mostly 5T and a few smaller 6 items. (If anyone is interested in her gently worn size 3T and 4T clothing, let me know--I'll be happy to sell it to you!)

Other happy and exciting things: Katya is now initiating using a handful of signs to communicate her needs. She can and does sign "toliet", "thirsty" "more", "yes" and shakes her head for "no". She also has a few food signs she tries to use, but so far she hasn't figured out that they are specific to an exact food, and she will trot them out and use them whenever she sees a food she wants! However, at least she IS communicating, and we are SO thrilled! It's also been QUITE helpful in reducing her screaming at least 75% and I now feel as if my nerves are recovering to a long extent! (When you again and again and again have unexpected ear-piercing screaming day after day, week after week, it does something really wierd to your nerves . . . at least, it did to mine . . . )

And best of all??? Katya started making the "s" and "t" letter sounds--IN HER SLEEP! ;-) Since she sleeps with Charity and Kristina, Charity alerted us to that important fact, and we and then the school, once we informed them, set about to work with her while she was awake to try to see if we could elicit them in her waking hours! I'm so extremely proud and thankful to tell you that Katya can and does make those sounds--and in addition, she is now making the "m" and "f" sounds! Everyone is feeling much more hopeful that this could be the very EARLY start towards speech . . . who knows, but it's certainly an encouraging sign! Her favorite group care-giver would be SOOO excited and proud if she knew, I know! She kept trying to impress on us that she had worked with the same orphanage for 20 years, and that she was SURE Katya was just as smart as any other kid--she just couldn't speak so no one knew. I figured that if she had worked at the same orphanage for 20 years, she just had a pretty good handle on the situation with Katya, and it gave me a lot of hope and courage.

 Well, those of us who are working closely with Katya see so many, many changes in her each  day as she becomes more secure and knows she is a loved and wanted child! And I can only imagine how many MORE changes there will be in the next 3 months if she continues on at the pace she is going! I hope some day we can send a video to the orphanage of Katya--SPEAKING. Wouldn't that just be amazing??! ;-)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strep has Struck

Poor Miss Katya is very sick with what turned out to be strep throat . . . we spent a good chunk of time in the ER tonight after spending a long day at the specialist. (4 hours *IN* the Drs office plus lots of travel time!)

Please keep praying for Katya and for us . . .  I will try to post more when I can think more coherently but I did want to let you know that the Nuero Opthamologist did not see any swelling of the Optic Nerve that would indicate Inter-Cranial Pressure (or ICP). He admitted that just because he didn't see any thing today doesn't mean much except that today there isn't any ICP. He wants to continue to "closely follow" Katya with repeated check-ups to monitor it "as this is an evolving situation". I honestly was glad that he seemed to understand that particular aspect very well! Maybe better than some other people are understanding it.

In the meantime, Dr. K. is  referring Katya for two more appointments at two different places (with then a follow-up with him again after them--so three new appointments) to try to determine what level of vision Katya does have and whether or not she needs glasses. Since Katya can not talk, it sounds like the appointments are a bit more of a hassle than a typical screening/exam would be for a child with speech.

And of course . . . because something just has to happen to keep our life from being dull . . . while sitting there with Katya listless and racked with fever in my arms, the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building  . . . so down and down and down the stairs from the 5th floor I had to try to go with a very sick and miserable little Miss Katya and out into the windy and drippy parking lot till the fire men all arrived and checked the building out and gave it the all-clear . . .  Just thankful that after all that hassle, we did finally get seen by the Dr. even if it was 5:30 before we could get out of the office when her appointment for this was at 1:45 . . .

I'm also very grateful for my friend, Marian, going with me to to be our driver,  keep my sanity and be my "camel" lugging my bag and our water bottles so I could carry Katya! May she NOT get strep and may she and her household be blessed because they were willing to show this kindness to Katya and us!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Disability Awareness Sunday

Thanks to some helpful friends of ours, we were put in touch with a church within driving distance that has a disability program. The program Director, Laura, has been very kind and helpful and supportive via email again and again since we brought Katya home. Indeed, sometimes her kind words and prayers were virtual life-lines to me during some dark and discouraging moments. Knowing that this resource was even available helped give me a extra shot of courage at times.Especially in the early days that felt so very overwhelming as our family struggled to adjust and cope, while Mom was still zonked out with jet-lag, and we were fighting not having a SS # OR medical insurance for Katya in the face of her ovewhelming medical needs!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to go to their big picnic yesterday which sounded like it would have been a ton of fun for our whole family due to Katya, Charity, and Chad all being sick, and yours truly feeling like dirt due to being up in the night with Katya for about 2 hours.

This morning Katya seemed to be feeling better, and a good night's sleep had done a lot for me, so those of us who were feeling well enough went out to the special church service, leaving Charity and Chad at home together to nurse their stuffy noses and coughs.

I was so thankful that we went . . . I can't tell you how many times I was in tears or near tears during the service . . . so many things ministered to me--the songs, the fact that the service was so full of people with obvious disabilities participating in the service in key parts, the genuine warmth and enthusiasm for Katya that we sensed, the story of the special speaker, Betsy Bolick who shared her journey as a person coming to terms with God's love for her and His plan for her life in the face of huge physical issues . . . we just really, really needed that support right now.

We plan to try to keep up with their Saturday program for families as much as we can this fall and winter. Kristina is very excited that she will be able to be a helper with the kids with special needs--and I think she will shine in that role. She's going to start out being Katya's buddy at first to help ease Katya's transition into the events, and then we will see what works out from there. I am grateful for this great opportunity for Katya and our family to find some practical emotional and spiritual support. Honestly, we have really been needing it.

Like I told someone today, you can adopt a child with multiple handicaps knowing you will want and need extra support--but you don't realize how BADLY you want and need it until you are right into the thick of it. While I'm very grateful for the online support and the in-person support we have, there is a real need for more in-person support and net-working. Thankfully, this church has heeded the call of God to reach out and try to meet that need.

For more information, and for ideas to perhaps start or enhance your own ministry to people who are challenged in various ways: http://www.zanesvillecma.org/disabilitypage.htm

Tomorrow Katya, who is now going to school 5 days a week *without* Mommy or Daddy, will be taken out of school early so we can get her to an appointment in a larger city with a Nuero-Opthamologist. I am praying that through this visit, God will give definitive direction about our next steps for Katya's health. We have some pretty large concerns right now about what is going on with her walking--what started out as an occasional foot drag on one foot spread to both feet, and now is a almost constant thing. It went from being when she had shoes on to even without shoes--you can hear her feet as the "scuff" across the carpet. Saturday she lost her balance and almost pitched head first down the steps right in front of Paul's horrified eyes. Her gait has become strange and poor Katya has totally lost the once-graceful walk she used to have that we used to comment on. I feel scared and yes, frankly, angry at times. I feel like a lot of delaying has gone on when it was obvious her brain was growing rapidly and pushing her head out in new places  . . . but each place wants to schedule appointments several weeks or more out in advance and so this process is dragging on and on while our daughter deteriorates before our very eyes.

Paul and I have come to the conclusion that if the Dr. tomorrow says, "No pressure on the brain" we are going to take serious steps to try to get whatever is going on looked at. Maybe even drastic steps. Please pray for Katya and for our family. When she had so many strikes against her, it's VERY hard to see her lose one of the things that was a huge positive in her life.

In the face of all this, we cling to God and to each other . . . .

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Results of CT Scan

Call from Dr. Carson's office. Katya's CT scan showed lots of good healthy brain. (No surprise there, for those of us who are learning to know Katya close up!)

The bad news is that parts of her brain show signs that indicate PRESSURE. No one knows if it's "past" pressure, or "current" pressure. If it's current pressure, then we have a problem that needs attention soon.

So, off to Neuro-Opthalmology and have a dilated eye exam to rule out papilledema--which will help Dr. Carson chart the next step for Katya.

Also, Katya started music lessons yesterday and her music teacher is VERY excited about her. ;-) She was so excited, she has offered to teach Katya for a much reduced price as she wants to help her blossom and grow. THAT was just the icing on the cake . . .and a true blessing from God!

I have so much more good news to report, but that will have to wait for another post. My blogging time seems pretty limited these days . . .thank you to all of you who are reading and praying for Katya and our family! We really appreciate the prayer support and the comments!.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Learning New Things!

Katya is learning how to help fry the meat!

Scrub the potatoes

Rinse the potatoes

Peel the carrots

And keep on peeling the carrots . . .

And . . . AND . . . AND . . . Pet the cat!!!

Yes she is!!! She's still scared of him, but she's getting a LOT braver!!

Big News Too for Katya--she is going to go to SCHOOL this week for the first time! She will go for one hour on Wednesday with her Mama. I can't wait to see how she does with it! I'm sure she will be scared--so I'm very grateful that our local school's team had the good sense to invite me to stay with her the whole time. We are feeling very positive about working with them and are looking forward to seeing what all Katya will learn once she is given teaching each day. For right now, the amount of school she will be going to is limited to one hour a day, and several days a week. After about two weeks of that . . . the IEP team and we will re-convene and discuss what we want to do from there. But for now, we are trying a main-stream Kindergarten class with a teacher who taught Special Ed for 8 years before switching to the kindergarten teaching.
Paul and I feel really grateful so far for the positive interactions we have had. I'm sure as time moves on we may have our struggles at times with things--after all--we have been home-schooling for over 12 years now!--but for now, off to school Katya goes.

One More Thing--Katya is learning to play with toys!! She now will sit and play with Duplos and the Fisher Price Little People on her own some now! We are soooo excited at all the positive changes we are seeing in her in the last two weeks! YAY for progress!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Riding the Roller Coaster to the End--The All-Important CT Scan!

Well, we have been on a roller coaster ride since last Friday, a week ago, when Dr. Carson asked us to get a CT scan done ASAP for Katya.

I will spare you all the ups and downs--the twists and turns--and the time we thought that the whole roller coaster had mal-functioned and was about to let us sit to so speak . . .

Meanwhile, during this scary ride, Katya's head has continued to get worse with current bulges getting larger, and new bulges forming. She obviously is in discomfort at times from the way she holds her head and looks.
So hard to have such a communication barrier at times like that!

Anyway, today we got up early and set out to Akron Children's Hospital to get the CT scan done. We ended up there because they could get us in this week. Once we arrived, Katya was able to get her CT scan done *without* any sedation or general anethesia! I'm sure that was in large part to the many prayers going up on Kayta's behalf! I also want to give a real shout-out to the Akron Children's team who worked so hard to help Katya understand what was going to happen and to reassure her--including their awesome Russian interpreter, Anya!

I was able to wear a lead shield over my body and lean in to the machine with Katya with my hand on her jaw to help keep it still, as well as to let her feel my touch. I'm not happy about the amount of radiation I was potentially exposed to, but it's all in the line of duty for this Mama!

The actual CT scan was very brief and then we had to wait a bit till they could print off a CD with the pictures of Katya's head/brain for us. The precious CD has now been overnighted VIA FedEx and should be waiting for Dr. Carson on Monday a.m. promptly, unless Hurricane Irene disrupts things too much! Hopefully not.

Monday will be a new experience for us--Paul and I will be meeting with the team of professionals from the local school to discuss Katya's needs and try to draw up a plan of action for her. We continue to see signs that make us very hopeful that with adequate education and therapy Katya has a great life ahead of us. So hopefully we will find great enthusiasm and a willingness to work for Katya's best good on Monday.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Craniosynostosis--what a big and ugly word

And what a mess it has made of sweet Katya's body.

However, Dr. Carson (who was just as warm, personable and caring in real life as I have always heard him to be) seems to feel like he has a good handle on the situation so far. He feels that Katya's worsening is due to rapid brain growth due to increased nutrition and food (hard to believe that by virtually starving her an inadvertant kindness was done to her!). He noted the foot dragging (now happening with both feet) and her clumsy steps--things which have changed for the worse since her head issues deteroriated.

The plan is for us to get a High Resolution CT scan ASAP. "And then make them give YOU the CD of pictures and you send it to me!" said Dr. Carson. "Don't let  them try to tell you that they will send it to me. I KNOW you will get it to me faster than they will!"

After Dr. Carson gets the CT scan results, he will form a plan of action, based on what he can see of Katya's head. So we don't have all the answers we want, but we are at least on the right track now and moving forward.

Dr. Carson also laid to rest the idea that two of Katya's fontanels are not completely closed (which is what we were being told by other Drs.) He said he can see why they might have thought that but a careful examination shows that not to be the case. They are closed.

Well, that makes a LOT of sense to me because I couldn't understand why if they were open we were getting such a bulge on the top of the head as her brain grew . . . He said the reason they are still a "dip" though is because her sutures closed unevenly and at the wrong times . . . so you end up with a mess.

We asked Dr. Carson if he has ever had a case similar to Katya's before and he nodded that he had.

As he walked out of the door, he won my Mommy heart because he tossed this over his shoulder at me, "We are going to focus on LIFE from now on! I believe someday Katya will amaze the world!"

Yeah. Me too. Me too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

For Sale Items

One of Charity's hand made flowers. This flower is made from up-cycled poly fabric. It is made so it can be worn as a pin on a dress or blouse, fastened to your bun with a hair pin, or a bobby pin slid through the loop on the back and it put in your hair elsewhere. You provide the fastener of your choice.

$9.00 shipped to the Lower 48 states via First Class mail.

Girls and grown women both seem to love Charity's flowers . .  With a little care they will last a long time, and are a sweet way to have a special touch.

Email me at phdfam@gmail.com  if  you are interested in purchasing this pin. All proceeds go to help Charity's violin upgrade fund grow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

For months, even before we adopted her, every time I prayed about Katya's medical needs, this was the face that came to me.

Dr. Benjamin Carson addresses the 2007 International Achievement Summit in Washington, D.C.

And this was the name that came to me: "Dr Ben Carson".

I am very grateful to God, and very, very happy to tell you that Katya has an appointment with Dr. Ben Carson on August 19th at Johns Hopkins. I don't know what our dear Doctor S. said to get Katya in to see Dr. Carson, because he only sees a VERY limited number of new patients per year, but Katya is in.

I have peace that we are walking the path God has called us to walk for Katya . . . I have faith that Dr. Carson, who believes in God and His almighty power, is the best Doctor for Katya at this point in her life. I don't know what all is ahead of us on this journey, but we are on the journey, and trusting that God who has preserved Katya's life thus far will be walking with Katya and with us each step.

If you want to know more, read "Gifted Hands" and watch the movie. I don't remember when I first read "Gifted Hands"--I think when I was around 20 or so?? So about 20 years ago . . . I always wondered if Dr. Carson had had access to my brother, Jeff, who died of a non-malignant tumor at the base of his brain, would Jeff's story been written the same? Who knows . . . I don't know . . .

But when I began praying about Katya's medical needs and Dr. Carson's face and name kept coming to me, and every where I turned it seemed that his name was popping up--even in the Sew Beautiful magazine (of all places!!), I knew I had to follow the promptings. When I researched and saw how few new patients Dr. Carson saw each year, I knew it would be a big thing and an "open door" sign for us if he agreed to see Katya! And he did.

Now granted . . . no one wants to be in that "elite few" category with their child . . . but you know what?? Since Katya does seem to be in the "elite few" with her head issues, I'm glad that a Dr. with years of experience is going to be the one looking at her! It's time to get some answers for Katya and get the process started to give her poor brain and head some relief!

Specific Prayer Requests:

* For baby sitting to work out for our children while we are gone

* For Peace and Comfort for Katya and all of us

Praise Reports:

* Katya was FINALLY added to our insurance!

* Katya has a SS number now!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What's Going on With Katya?

She still SHRIEKS about the cat  . . . but she's also very, very curious about him! I have PROOF taken just today!

Such a morose look on her face as she studied him from behind the safety of the glass!

Chad is finding ways to play with Katya inspite of all her attacks on his safety and well-being in the form of random attacks of pinching and biting . . . I think he'll win her over yet . . . cause the gal LOVES music and and he gets her and waltzes her around the living room to the sound of Tijuana Christmas on the record player!

Tijuana Christmas

As you can see, it's fun for them both! 

You can also see how nice and thick her hair is getting--and LONG--from the pictures.

That's the good news . . .
The not so good news is that Katya's head shape is worsening. She's getting a big ugly ridge pushing up on the top of her head. The Dr. saw her yesterday and said that her head has definitely gotten way worse than it was just a few weeks ago. Katya also is "ouching" if her head is touched even lightly in that area. So it's become URGENT that she see a Dr. who is a specialist in cranio issues. We are working on trying to make arrangements for that.
Your prayers are very deeply appreciated. For anyone who knows about cranio issues, you know how worrisome this is, and how of ESSENCE time is in protecting the brain. Please pray for Katya that God's hand of protection will be over her little brain and protect it from further damage . . . and that her spirit and emotions will continue to heal and that the almost certainly needed surgery will be able to be done safely and in a timely manner.
Please pray for our other kids. This is very upsetting to them as well on various levels.

Bucket Bag Still for Sale

The apron is spoken for, pending payment. However, the bucket bag is still around--$6.00 plus $2.75 shipping to the Lower 48 States.  Intended to be a soft, fun little bag for wee hands to carry around their Legos, dolly clothes or whatever! Made by Charity with care in our non-smoking home.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Charity Needs Help--and Katya Helps Her

Since this blog is mostly about Katya and the process our family has gone through to get her home, and her progress now that she is home, I wondered if this was the appropriate venue to share about Charity and her project, but I finally decided it was. It involves the star of this blog--Katya--in every which direction, so yes, certainly so!

Back in the late fall or early winter, Charity's violin teacher told her that she needed an upgraded violin. Hers was an inexpensive one as violins go, and her playing had surpassed what music she could coax out of it. He said that she needed to be thinking about a violin in the $1,500 price range.

Charity knew what he said was true, and was very excited at the thought of upgrading, but sweet and caring girl that she is, she told us she would wait to upgrade until after we got Katya home and paid off her adoption expenses. That way, she was able to focus on helping sew and craft for Katya's adoption expenses.  Now that we have the adoption out of the way, Charity  is ful swing in trying to finish raising the funds that she needs. She needs only around $400 more to upgrade her violin, since she can turn in the violin she has currently for credit towards the new one AND she had some money saved already towards an upgrade.

She has been busily sewing in almost every spare moment she has, as well as raiding her stash of vintage-like dresses that she has collected, with plans to sell them. Because her violin is very important to her. And she so badly  wants to be able to get a better one soon that she's willing to sacrifice--just like Katya, facing a horrible future and possible death was so important to her that she was willing to sacrifice for Katya!

Now, Katya is trying to help Charity get her violin! Yes, she really is! I present the following photographic evidence of this for your pleasure! These photos were taken JUST TODAY so are "hot off the camera" so to speak!

What? You say you don't see how Katya is trying to help?! Well, Miss Katya has a real aversion to getting her photo taken! And yet look at her--here she is in this photo and all the rest, modeling the apron and bucket bag that Charity made to sell to help add to her violin fund! Just look at Katya!

Nicely trimmed Cobbler Apron with cordinating green polka dot fabric making the pockets.

Check out the hand stitching around some of the owls on the bucket bag! Charity is always looking for ways to ramp up her projects and take them from "ordinary" to "special"!

Katya, smart girl that she is, hung the bucket bag on the door knob all on her own!

Asking $15.00 for the apron, and $6.00 for the bucket bag if purchased separately. If purchased together, $20.00

These are made from quality 100% cotton that is brand new and from our non-smoking home. Made with care and precision by Charity, to help raise funds for her violin. Intended to fit a child in the 4 to 6 year age range, depending on size. Ties at the sides with ties. Pops off and on over the head. First come, first served, so please email at: phdfam@gmail.com if you are interested. We accept PayPal or personal check (item will not ship till it's cleared.)
Stay tuned for more items coming soon!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Super Wonderful News!!!

YES! I have finally finished crunching the numbers and checking the credit card statement for the airfare and other things that were charged during our trip and comparing it to our adoption account funds--and we are FULLY FUNDED!!!!!

I hinted that there were good things going on but never fully explained . . . and I want to take the time to do so now.

Shortly before we left for Ukraine on the second trip, someone that I have been online friends with for a long time, but never met in person, got in touch with me to ask if a interest-free loan that we could repay as we were able would help with the last financial crunch at that point to get Katya home. Paul and I gratefully accepted the generous offer, and thanks to that and some fund raising we had done, we were able to have the cash flow we needed for the trip. That was a huge weight from our minds, and we again thank God for this person who was sensitive to His voice in this way!!!

 However, the burden and desire of our heart was still to be able to complete the adoption DEBT-FREE. Realistically, we knew we NEEDED to complete it debt-free.
It was hard to leave for Ukraine knowing we were thousands short of what we needed  . . . but while we were stepping into the Jordan River so to speak, God began to part the waters . . . . Several large donations came in from individuals--and a church blessed us with $3,500 !!!!! We were able to be frugal on both trips, and so between the donations, fund-raising and what we were able to contribute ourselves financially (which we have done as much as we can this entire journey) we are able to pay back the loan in full, and find ourselves FULLY FUNDED. Well--except for the post-placement fees that our adoption agency charges for the post-placement reports that our State and their Agency require. However, that is somewhere around $900 and can be spread out over the next three years so we are calling this fund-raising journey DONE--FINISHED--COMPLETE--FINAL--ALL-WRAPPED UP and any other words you can come up with to sum it all up!!! What a journey it is has been!!!! And we thank you ALL of you who have helped for your very generous support in SOOOOO many ways!!! We coudln't have done it without you!!!!!! You have all literally taken part in SAVING A LIFE--Katya's Life!!!!!!!! We will forever be grateful to you for sacrificing in many ways to help give Katya the family she needs!!! May you all be blessed by God . . . and may He restore full-fold to you . . . and much more for your kindnesses to Katya and our family!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some News

Katya was helping Papa rinse the dishes on Sunday. She's wants to be QUITE independent about it which doesn't make it easy to help teach her how to really do it . . . but at least she wants to help. Gotta hand her that, even if at this point she wants it all to be on her terms.

This photo was taken last evening by Paul.  Truly, the evening with Katya is the best part of my day. She's happy to snuggle for about an hour while I rock her and it's my sanity saver. Parenting a child who has been allowed to live in her own little world for so long is NOT an easy task. I knew it would be hard--all of us knew it would be hard--but the sheer enormity of the task sometimes bowls us backwards as we try to get through each day. Only in God's strength are we being able to do it, and the prayers of everyone is very vital.

To further add to the stress of the situation, her whole insurance status is still hanging in limbo. (Yes, it is a long story . . . and I'm not getting into it all here.) And to further complicate matters, when we tried to apply for her Social Security number, we were told that the application is being rejected by the Department of H*meland S*curity. There is an error in Katya's paperwork some where . . . no one knows where yet as it's under investigation. Needless to say, we didn't need THAT stress hanging over our heads yet.

 Each day when I am awakened by the sound of a little girl thumping and banging around over my head I have to pray quickly before I climb out of bed and ask God to give me the strength and grace to get through each minute of the day. I feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with all that needs done. One of my children asked me, "If you choose to do this, do you have ANY right to voice unhappiness?" I told them that I knew God was calling me to do it--that was the reason I did it--obedience to Him. And obedience to Him doesn't guarantee that we are going to be comfortable or happy or find life easy! In fact, I seem to recall that Jesus' choice of obedience to His father, God, sure brought a lot of stress, challenges and physical and emotinonal and mental pain to Him. Paul and I both know God called us to add Katya to our family, and we are trusting Him that He has not brought her this far to turn his face away from her and us . . . No, I am positive that He has not! I don't know what all His plans are for her and us but I'm choosing to make the choice to trust Him each day before I get out of bed that He's going to get us through another day, no matter how hard it is. I'm choosing to trust that He's going to bring healing into her emotions and into her body. I'm choosing to trust that He will provide for her medical needs and therapy needs even though I don't see how yet. I'm choosing to trust that He has a perfect plan for her life even though things are hanging in the balance right now with the snafu (unknown as yet to us what it is!) in her documents.
So, even though Katya is home . . . I'm going to ask you to keep praying for her and praying for us . . . there are many needs. God knows what they all are and as His people pray, He can apply them to the needs. Thank you again for standing with Katya and us through this amazing and crazy journey!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Update On Katya

Katya has now seen our family Doctor, the Osteopathic Doctor, and the whole International Adoption Clinic team.

Everyone feels that given the life she has led for the last 6 years, she is doing amazingly well, both physically and in her adjustment and bonding.

Katya is gaining weight! When we first brought her out of the orphanage, she fit into size 3/4 underwear with a lot of "bag"  . . . she was simply skin over bone--it HURT literally to hold her on our laps because her hip bones dug painfully into our legs. Now she has some nice padding on her body--not a lot, but some and I expect her to continue to put on more weight if she keeps eating as she is. Now that she's learning that there is enough food for her, her "wolfing" is lessening . . .

Katya also already is clearly recognizing some basic words or phrases in English! "Let Mommy help you", "Wait", "Come to Mommy" and "Katya, go wash your hands!" She also recognizes, "What does Katya want?" and she knows that her is her "cue" to sign "more". She also will sometimes now spontaneously sign "more" when she sees something she wants to eat or if she truly wants "more" of anything she's already eaten! We are working hard on teaching her the sign for "toliet" and hope that at some point she will learn to sign that for us. In the meantime, taking her frequently to the toliet is working--she also is starting to take herself at times now.

Recognizing her bedtime routine has happened now as well--Katya will go after her bath, pick out a book and wait in the (very old and worn out) rocking recliner waiting for me to come snuggle her and read to her. I rock her usually for around an hour, and then take her up and tuck her into her bed. She generally pulls the blankets right over her head and goes quickly to sleep! She seems to be happy every time I tuck her into bed--I think the fact that she saw the photo ahead of time of her bed makes her feel connected and safe in her bed.

Lest you think all is peaches and cream, I will be honest and tell you that there are PLENTY of hard moments. The hardest is that Katya views Chad evidently as a threat to her and is really unkind to him again and again. We continue to address that and try to work with it, but so far we havent' succeded in getting the behaviors all stopped. I'm sure they are "survival of the fittest" behaviors and will lessen with time, but in the mean time it's being really hard on Chad and all of us . . . he's prayed and loved Katya so faithfully and persistently all this time that it's hard to see him hurt so much.

Katya is also testing, testing, testing! She obviously is thinking hard and trying to see what the boundaries here at home are. We've done bodily excretions, tantrums, clothing chewing and other assorted things . . . fortunately . . . we are able to keep a pretty good sense of humor most of the time and roll with it all and she's starting to realize that such behaviors don't punch our buttons and instead end up with her being the loser. Her tantrums have lessened in intensity and duration quite a bit, and a lot of other behaviors are seeming to lose some steam as well.

There is still much need for prayers for Katya and our family . . . . please continue to pray. And we will continue to try to update you as we can find a few moments here and there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If you commented or contacted about buying an item...

We have gotten emails and comments from people who said they wanted some of the souvenirs we brought back from Katya's country, but then never heard back. If you contacted us and still are interested in buying any of the items, please email at phdfam@gmail.com. Thanks!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Picture Speaks 1,000 words....

At the airport...6/30

Asleep at home in her own bed.

A Katya-initiated hug with her "little" brother...

Mama teaching Katya how to hit a baseball

Friday, July 1, 2011


Katya slept in her own bed last night . . .

We are crazy busy as she needs supervised every single second. I will try to post some photos of her homecoming later  . . .


And a special thank you to our friends who came last night to the airport to welcome us home. You do not know how very much we appreciated each and every one of you taking time in your busy lives to come show love for Katya!!

Next week we start taking her to Drs, hoping to try to get a clue of what types of needs she has and what can be done to meet those needs. There are many, many hours of medical appointments and therapy ahead of us, so thank you for continuing to pray for Katya and our family as we all wade though the adjustments that having the equivalent of a baby who can walk and run in the family brings! I have high hopes that as she is taught and related to, Katya will develop new and older behaviors, but in the meantime, she needs constant supervision to keep her safe.

God bless!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


No longer an orphan, but a dearly loved and cherished daughter and sister! With great joy we welcome Katya Rose into our lives and soon to be, living with us in our home! For now, she's sleeping peacefully on a make-shift bed in an apartment in Uk*aine, after snuggling to sleep with Mommy. What an amazing thing to think about! In September of 2009, as I walked out of her life, I whispered into her ear, "Good-bye, Mommy loves Katya" in Russian, the language she understands. And for months . . . I could not tell her that again. . . I could only send her messages in my prayers and dreams . . . tonight .  . I could whisper it again and again and again into her little ears . . .  "Good-night, Katya, Mommy loves you!"
Thank You, Dear Father God, for saving one of the least of these . . . for rescuing her from the fate that awaited her without a Mommy and Daddy to love her, protect her, and fight for her best good. Thank you for giving her two sisters and two brothers who will love her and protect her and help her to bloom. . . and thank you for family and friends who have prayed for her and will continue to pray for her and love her no matter what. Thank you for the gift of Katya Rose to our family. Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Praise Report!

We have had a lot of good things happen in the last few days! I can't share all of them here until I am home, but one very important one that I know a lot of people have been praying about with us I can share!

Photos from yesterday evening--check it out!

Quite a constrast from the miserable eyes she had on Friday  . . . and Mommy could press gently or firmly on her tummy every where and no flinching AT ALL!
That, friends is huge, as she was so protective of her tummy before we even when home for the 10 day wait, and would flinch at the lightest touch. And then came this past Friday with Katya writhing and crying when her tummy was accidentally pushed on in the course of trying to keep her safe in the car on our laps (no seat belts) and then how listless and still she got for the rest of the ride back to the orphanage, how she refused to drink her juice (which normally she greedily guzzled) and so on. I knew if she was still acting so "off" come Monday I would need to assert my rights as her Mother and check her out of the orphanage and obtain medical care for her. But it wasn't what I was wanting to have happen--for several reasons--one big one being that we could easily be here another week or more and this place is not set up for Katya and her special needs. It will be challenging enough to keep her happy and safe for just 3 or 4 days while we are completing the USA Embassy requirements and waiting to fly home!
So I'm so grateful to God for correcting whatever the problem was, even if it's a temporary correction! Would be nice if it was a permanent healing though! ;-) Thanks to all of you who have been interceding on Katya's behalf!
Also, Charity had a better night last night, in spite of us ending up needing to eat out twice yesterday.
At lunch time, the cleaning lady for the apartment showed up so we vacated the premises and walked to a nearby place to eat. The menu was entirely in cryllic with out any photos, so . . . um . . . how are we going to work this? Well, they sent us a waitress who knew some English, and she suggested a "meat soup" when I asked about soups. So meat soup and bread and water. . .  With someone practicing their vocals in an apartment above us as music for our meal.

The soup was very tasty, with plenty of tiny cubes of meat.

And we could actually download a book to our devices to read thanks to their free Wi-Fi.

The setting was extremely pleasant as it was one of the outdoor dining areas that are one of the things I so love about this city. Unlike the little tables thrown on a patio that pass for outdoor dining in my area at home, where the sun beats down on you, these dining areas are under big awnings, with window boxes full of flowers, and a nice wood floor and all the other things that make it feel elegant and comfortable.

The price was not terrible--Just over $17.00 USD for the two of us. However, when I tell you that I purchased close to a week's worth of groceries for the two of us, plus some juice boxes for Katya, for around $70 USD, and *that* included some chocolate to take home, a box of laundry soap, AND a magazine, you will quickly see why we are mostly fixing our own food and 'eating in'.

Supper was more expensive. I think honestly we were over charged. But I was tired enough by that point and distracted that I didn't catch it in time to have our friend challenge it. Umm, all I'm going to say about the price is: OUCH! Double OUCH! I'm sure what we had for lunch was a lot healthier for us and defintely WAYYY cheaper. But the uniforms on the Mc-employees here in town are neat  .  .  . way neater than in the USA! So I'm glad Charity got to see them . . .and since children were involved . . . McDonald's was where we needed to be last evening.

We are still waiting for paperwork to be processed before we can proceed with the USA Embassy requirements. We try to get to see Katya each day we can, and then fill in the rest of the time with reading books, Skyping friends, walking around the city, fixing food, cleaning up from fixing food, and doing laundry.

Specific Prayer Requests:
#1. For continued health and safety for all of us here, as well as our family back at home. We are currently split into three different locations which is hard on all of us, esp. as it means that right now for most of the week we are not able to Skype with Chad and Kristina. That is very difficult.

#2. For the paperwork to be processed in a timely manner, and for it to be done correctly.
#3. We may ask to change apartments due to the issues we are having still getting to the bus we need to get to Katya's town. Pray that if we are meant to do that the details would work out for us.
#4. Some specific unspoken requests.

And of course--PRAISE GOD that Katya was feeling so much better, and that Charity had a good night and is feeling fine this morning! ;-)