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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Thursday, April 25, 2013


When kids first come home from living in an orphange, they often (maybe always?) do not have a good understanding--if any understanding at all--about ownership.

Property in the orphanage is communal generally, and even clothing may rotate around to whichever child grabs it to wear. In Katya's orphanage, it did seem she had two outfits plus shoes for outside and a pair for indoors that were "hers" in the sense that she was seen wearing them again and again and again. But she didn't have anything that really was "hers" otherwise as nearly as we could tell.

The kids clearly had no sense of ownership, as they would try to grab things we were giving to Katya from her, and we had to repeatedly gently but firmly stop them from their attempts.

There are so many ways that we just quietly move through life practicing our "ownership skills" never thinking a thing about them, that it's easy to not even realize how important the ability to take ownership is--that is, until you adopt a child who has no concept of ownership!

We had purchased and taken along to Ukraine a tiny little "Dora" backpack for Katya, filled with crayons, a small coloring book, and other items we hoped she would find interesting and entertaining. When we first gave her the backpack and tried to show her how to carry it either in her hand or on her shoulders, she screamed and shoved the backpack away. Over the last 18 months no matter how much we would offer the pack pack to her, she would reject having anything to do with  carrying it. It got set down as soon as our backs were turned, or shoved back into our hands. She LIKED what was in the back pack, and was happy to pull items out and use them while waiting at Doctor's offices or in the car on a trip. But she was NOT going to carry that little thing--NO WAY. It was not HER job to do it, she was sure, evidently! And any attempts at encouraging that met with more scowls and shrieks.

So you can imagine our utter shock when Tuesday morning when we said, "It's time to go see Dr. Dorafshar and Dr Carson! Come on, let's go!" and Katya ran to the corner of our room at the Children's House, grabbed the back pack (that we weren't even going to mess with that day!) and ran to the door lugging it!

And lug it she did! For the next 5.5 hours that back pack went with her EVERY WHERE all over Johns Hopkins hospital! No one else was supposed to touch it, to carry it, or mess with it! It was HERS--and she clearly demonstrated that she KNEW it!

 (Yes, Charity has fun photographing us waiting--and waiting--and waiting some more! And I had just leaned over to look at something on the Ipad Paul wanted me to see when Charity snapped the photo--I'm not about passing out from the waiting--or the heat!)

Katya appropriately pulled out items to entertain herself as needed. (Here seen in Dr. Dorafshar's exam room.)

Even when she went to sit on Dr. Dorafshar's lap and play with his name tag, she still kept a tight grip on her backpack.

When her wait for Dr. Carson went over 2 hours (he was delayed in surgery), Katya pulled out a snack from HER back pack and was busily engaged in eating it when Dr. Carson was finally able to show up to check out how well she is doing!

Dr. Carson's gentle exams of her head never seem to phase her--if you show Katya a photo with several people, Dr. Carson being one of them, and ask her who has gentle-gentle hands, she will stab his face most emphatically--every time!

I can not tell you how extremely proud we were of Katya's ownership of that back pack, and the responsibility she showed for making sure she knew right where it was each time we stopped, and then picking it up again as we would move on. Such a thing that may seem so simple and yet is so huge for our little girlie in light of her background! And what a good step towards eventual independence, which is our goal for her as an adult!

As Dr. Carson said when he told us Good-Bye (probably for the last time, as he is retiring in June and handing Katya's care over to his associate, Dr. Ahn, who we will meet likely in October), "There's more to Katya than meets the eye. Don't ever let anyone underestimate her!" Right spot on, and exactly what we have been saying . . . it was so nice to have it confirmed "officially"! ;-) We will continue to advocate and fight for her to be treated as the bright and developing child she is!

1 comment:

Laura Elizabeth said...

That is so exciting!
... wish we could get some of my younger siblings to be so responsible ;)