Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Chapter, New Territory


It's been 3 1/2 months since we picked up our sweet Karolina from the orphanage in Czestochowa, and 8 weeks since she's been home with us.   The many months of waiting,  praying,  and anxious anticipation have given way to a calm rhythm.   The passage of time is a funny thing. Our adoption journey was so intense and emotional, and seemed never-ending at the time, but now it seems like so long ago.  We pray for the families still waiting, and I hope for the same experience, that the sacrifice and waiting are worth every second, and dulled by the joy of what's to come.     I can hardly remember life before Karolina was here, and grafted on to our hearts.  I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't gotten teary-eyed at some point looking at her,    in awe of God's amazing hand in our lives and the fact that she is actually HERE.   

Her personality and development have blossomed over the past month. I need to make a record of specific dates and milestones of her achievements because she is growing so quickly. That being said, since arriving home, our lives have been filled with a flurry of medical assessments, doctors appointments, referrals to specialists and long days in waiting rooms. Sometimes I question if it's all necessary. So much so, that I recently cancelled a scheduled MRI because I just wasn't convinced the need was justified (and after consulting with her specialist).   She was born 6 weeks premature, and with a medical condition that may, or may not affect her brain. At this point, she is not showing any signs of a neurological defect, except for some general delays. So, I seem to vacillate between immense pride in her accomplishments, and fear and worry over her being slightly delayed. When we picked her up she was 11 months old and couldn't sit up on her own, crawl or use a pincher grasp. Now, she's 14 months old and crawling, standing (with help), using her fine motor skills to eat Cheerios and even scooting up the stairs!   

Pretty remarkable in my book. However, her Pediatrician is concerned that she's still not saying any basic words (like "dada").     With her doing so many physical things, I'm not surprised she is behind verbally, and coupled with the heard she only heard Polish until we picked her up...I still have faith she'll communicate normally in her own time.   I just wish I knew of a support group a way to connect with other families who have been, or are going through, the same things. This is new territory and I feel inadequate to understand it all.    I know she is smart, so my gut instinct tells me that with continued love and stimulation she will catch up. But, I would feel forever guilty if I was negligent in an area and missed something that could be corrected with early intervention. Although she is our fourth child, I feel like a novice and have been driven to my knees a lot lately, asking the Lord for wisdom and direction.

To add another twist, our surprise miracle baby is due at the end of next month. So, I'm half expecting to gain a little more confidence, just in time our lives to be shaken up all over again. Ha. :)      I say that with a grateful heart, I just pray for energy and teamwork with Jim to know how to juggle it all. God is good...great is thy faithfulness and rich in kindness is He,  and I trust Him implicitly with all he has blessed us with...crosses and crowns, in drought and abundance. I'm hoping to update this blog a little more now, and can't wait to see the community of Polish adoptive families share good news to come. I know there will be much to celebrate in the coming months and I can't wait to see it all unfold.    


  1. What a nice family picture! Karolina looks so happy and pleased with herself in the second picture :-) sounds like she is making great progress!

  2. Hi Brooke! Congratulations on your beautiful daughter and your son who will be arriving soon. I've been listening to you since you arrived in NE OH and have followed your adoption journey....although I've never commented on your blog.
    I am an adoptive Mom of three blessings from India. They were 10mo., 14mo., and 4 years when we brought them home and are now 11, 11 1/2, and 12 1/2. They each have their own little "special needs" and so I can relate so much to your feelings of not knowing if you're doing the right things for your daughter medically. It can be VERY overwhelming! My only advice would be to consider Early Intervention if it is recommended to you. If nothing else they can give Karolina a good evaluation and give you some peace of mind. And if they feel that therapies would be helpful, then you've gotten an early start.
    Praying for you!
    - Jill

  3. I think I am going to be in your same boat in just a few months! I have no experienced wisdom to offer, only to say that in all I have been reading, so far, no one has said they regret doing EI services like ST/PT/OT, but MANY have said they wished they did it sooner. That being said, go with your gut!

  4. She is doing great!! What huge steps she has made in such a short time. When we first met K at 13 months she was not sitting up on her own, and when she was ours at 19 months, she was not crawling or standing. That changed pretty quickly with daily stimulation and interaction. I was worried she would never walk, but then she took off at 25 months. Now she is running, climbing, etc. My advice is to set aside the charts and milestones that they suggest at her current age. I understand there are possible medical concerns related to her development... and of course you want to evaulate all the concerns. But even if she was in a good orphanage (like our K was), it is so difficult for the caregivers to provide the attention, interaction and stimulation to each little one and there is necesarily going to be a lot of "catch up" as compared with peers born in families. The change in language also must be extremely difficult. Even if she wasn't talking yet, she was hearing totally different sounds (I don't know about you, but learning just a few Polish words was super hard for me!). It is so great to see your little girl happy and smiling with her family.

  5. Congrats on your two babies! How amazing to have been blessed with two miracles at once. We are interested in adopting from Poland. What orphanage was it in Czestochowa? She is just too beautiful! We'd love to network with you once we start our process.


  6. I completely agree with Jennifer. We were in the same boat with our son, Michal. We met him at 14 months. He was also just starting to sit up. We had him crawling by the time we left Poland at 16 months, but he didn't start walking until just before he turned 2.

    I also agree that you need to put the milestone charts away. Karolina is doing amazingly well! My step sister is a pediatrician who gave me some amazing advice. She told me that it took his first 14 months to develop these delays, and it will take at least twice as long for him to overcome them. Due to our son's cleft lip and palate, he spent a great deal of time in a hospital bed during a very citical time in his life. On top of that, he was not taken to the physical therapy (that was repeatedly prescribed for him) until we got to Poland to take him outselves---ok that is not completely true, he was taken twice before we got there (and we took him 2 to 3 times a week).

    One thing we did right when we got home was to have our public school system evaluate our son to determine if he could receive special education services that would help him prepare for school. These services are free due to the property taxes we pay.

    Our son is now 4, miles away from where he once was, but still a bit behind his peers. He does not seem to have the same level of balance his peers do. Our son can go up and down the stairs hanging on to a railing, but he is not able to run up and down the stairs sans railing like most of his peers. He does not like to climb on a jungle gym, but I don't know if that is a personality trait or a defense mechanism.

    I too worry about if and when he will catch the physical development of his peers, but I have to remind myself of what he can do that his peers can not (he has a memory to save your life, he pays specific attention to how things work, is very worried about hurting other's feelings....I could go on for days, but you probably get the idea. The book "Expecting Adam" really helped me to lesson the number of times I compare my son to what is seen as "normal" and look at the unique gifts he has to offer.

    Your family is so incredibly beautiful. Another example of what Magda would call, "God's pick". I am sure you would agree that things are just as they should be. Karolina will be an amazing big sister to the new little one.

    Clearly I could go on for days on this topic.... feel free to email me if you would like.

  7. Yay!! So fun! We adopted our little girl in March of 2010. She also was a preemie,although we don't know how much. We got her at 12 months. Her progress sounds VERY similar to your daughter's! We have thus far declined interventions and are doing ok. :) I agree...I wish there were support groups or something! You have to just TRUST, because you can't follow the parenting books or anything when you throw in adoption, preemie, AND the foreign language barrier thing on top of everything! We have 5 kid now and have been suprisingly called to bring home one more! I try to catch you on the radio, but don't often have a chance. I'm glad I took a peek at your blog to get an update though :) Many blessings!