Friday, December 30, 2011

Do you hear what Henry hears.....?

Probably not.

Because Henry has hearing loss in both ears.

He cannot hear much under 40 decibels, which is about the volume of a normal conversation.

But if you go like this....

THEN you will hear what Henry hears....

The good news is that the ENT doc thinks that it is 95% likely that this hearing loss is caused by massive fluid buildup in his middle ears, preventing the eardrum from vibrating properly. Children with cleft palates can have this probably because their ears do not drain properly.

So while Henry is getting his cleft palate repaired in February, the ENT will also be there to suck out the fluid and place little teeny tiny tubes in.... and then we will re-check his hearing a few weeks later.

As she said...

"This will be the easiest medical procedure of the many he will need."

I'll take easy for a change!!!

Happy New Year to All from Henry and the whole Dobrovits family!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday.....Officially Overwhelmed

Well, it is official...

Larsen's Syndrome sucks.

Let me tell you about our week of medical stuff with our dear little Henry...

1) On Monday, we went to see an awesome chiropractor/naturopath who has helped myself, my son with major allergies, and many members of my family of birth deal with health problems that conventional medicine did not seem able to solve. We have a four point plan that will probably take several weeks to implement, but it should help to heal Henry's gut, help him to get more calcium in his bones, and finally to digest protein a bit better.

2) On Tuesday we headed to the Nutrition Assessment Clinic at Children's Hospital...because I am not going to completely abandon conventional medicine...which is indeed very good at testing and diagnoses...the main doctor recommended a full blood panel to check for most vitamin/mineral deficiencies (we do already know he is deficient in iron and calcium) and for metabolic disorders and we were also referred to a specialist in "joint displacement" to help us figure out what Henry's growth potential might be...

3) After the doc we saw a speech pathologist who confirmed that Henry is indeed seriously orally averse and recommends therapy both BEFORE and AFTER his cleft palate surgery in February, and gave us a referral to the gal most experienced with cleft palate children...we also need to go for a swallow test (to make sure he does not have a fistula or silent reflux)....

4) THEN the Nutritionist came into the room...even with a concentrated partially digested protein formula it appears that Henry might not be taking in enough calories since he is so active and the back brace makes him work harder to breathe (thus burning more calories) we are SUPER SUPER concentrating his formula and will see how that works...oh, and prayers please that our insurance decides to cover the cost of this formula since the monthly tab for just Henry is about half of my monthly grocery bill for the other 8 people in the family!!!!

5) On Thursday we went for a hearing screening since children with cleft palates or Larsen's Syndrome can have hearing problems....yep, abnormal results in BOTH EARS...could be as simple as he needs tubes put in his ears during the cleft repair surgery or it could be he has a congenital hearing loss...we have a referral to a ENT doc for next week...

6) Our fabulous OT made contact with another therapist who had treated a child with Larsen's who heard about a spinal surgery technique called the VEPTR procedure which is very successful treating severe scoliosis AND lordosis AND kyphosis of the spine (yep, my little sweetie has all 3 kinds of twisting you can have)....and I found the doctor who invented the procedure AND his office contact information in Pennsylvania!! We will be getting a call to evaluate Henry's potential for this specialized kind of surgery! The
internet is just amazing....

7) So since you are probably as overwhelmed and completely tired of all this medical stuff as I am, I will leave you with the reason I am so blessed to be dealing with all of the above...

For God sets the lonely in families....He does not forget the orphan....Henry is home in the arms of a loving family, where he....where EVERY CHILD....belongs.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The scale is not our friend....

December 9 was the 3 month anniversary of Henry touching down on American soil....

to a land of abundance and plenty....

he weighed 13 pounds 6 ounces.... not even on the charts (less than the 1st Percentile) for his age in weight and height....

we thought that would soon change....

The staff at the orphanage had said he could drink from a regular bottle......


Our first feeding on September 2 ("Gotcha" Day) took almost an hour of coughing and sputtering to feed him 3 ounces with a regular nipple, which is not surprising since he has a cleft palate and cannot create any suction...

I had brought a special bottle to Ukraine known as a Haberman feeder, which I knew from my years as a La Leche League Leader is used to feed cleft palate babies. It has a special valve to create its OWN suction and releases milk far back into Henry's mouth with only a tiny pit of pressure....

Here it is....with some with my breastmilk - I was still nursing my 2 year old daughter when I left for Ukraine so I pumped several times a day throughout the entire 25 day trip, even in the bathroom on our British Airways flight over the Atlantic....

Henry LOVED being able to eat without choking and he sucked down both breastmilk and formula (I was not producing enough for the 25-30 ounces he needs each day) with equal gusto.

Yet he LOST weight his first weeks home.

I was crushed.

But our pediatrician described how Henry's intestines, in response to chronic under-feeding, adapted by decreasing the available absorptive surface. He prescribed a special formula with proteins in extremely small pieces in order to best utilize the decreased absorptive villi in the intestines and improve Henry's nutritional status as soon as possible...

but here we sit, after 7 full weeks of the formula being prepared to concentrate it with additional calories and feeding it to him in amounts which SHOULD CLINICALLY PROVIDE ENOUGH nutrition to have Henry gain weight.

Yet he does not.

Other children have come home from Eastern Europe in near-starvation states.

One little one almost a year ago....

One little one about a month ago...

They began to gain almost immediately..... and kept gaining.

Henry gains. Then loses. Then stays the same. Then gains a bit more. Then loses a bit more.

He weighs 13 pounds 4 ounces - 2 ounces less than when he came home.

I am tired of doctors appointments.

I was looking forward to a break over the holidays.

But now it is time to gear up and find some answers.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Life in these United States

Henry is becoming more and more a typical American child with each passing day....

and yesterday a milestone was reached...

Hmmmm, what is this??? It looks interesting.....

I think I will put it in my mouth.....

YUM! I liked that!!!

McDonald's fries have another fan...

and Henry is feeling safe enough to let me give him food and to put it in his own mouth.....

just like a typical American 14 month old would...

so today I give thanks for McDonalds fries and the healing power of love.

Friday, December 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday - To Make Up for My Neglect...

WOW! Has it been 2 weeks since my last post??

Thanksgiving and a case of strep throat for my Ella and a bad cold for Henry will do that I guess...

so to make it up to everyone I am giving you lots of pictures today...

1) Henry!

This child is growing physically and mentally by leaps and bounds!!!

We would like for him to put on some more weight (he weights exactly the same as our first official weigh-in here in the States in early September) but his bonding to us is AMAZING and he is so SMART and he is ASTOUNDING his therapists with his progress on head control and chin tucking and clapping blocks together and helping to turn the pages when reading books and PLAYING with TOYS.....

I live in an almost constant state of amazement and gratitude that he is here with us and getting the medical care and brain stimulation he needs to THRIVE!!!

2) Anastasia!

This little sweetheart is on my heart lately. She is in Henry's country and has arthrogryposis (like Henry was SUPPOSED to have had) and she is just a bit younger than my sweet Tessa. I KNOW she is being treated like most children who cannot walk are in orphanages there....

left in a crib most of the therapy...little mental stimulation....

My heart aches for her.....and SOARS at the possibilities of what she could achieve with a family here in the U.S.!!

Go to - she has almost $8000 in her grant fund!!!

3) Madrigals!

Nothing puts me in a Christmas mood like medieval music sung acapella by guys in tights ;-)

like my son Brent....

who has graduated from the AWESOME Madrigals program at LincolnWay East and will be singing next week with the Madrigals at Joliet Junior College....

can't wait to hear the magic....

and see which costume and tights he gets to wear this year ;-)

4) Abundance!

I love Christmas.

I love giving presents.

I love decorating our home.

I love celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I hate that there are poor, sick, dying, orphaned children out there.

This tension is reminds me to be a little less ostentatious and a little more generous.

5) Coffee!
The last week has been very wintry in the south suburbs of Chicago....

Thank you Lord for a hot mug of morning coffee!

6) More Henry!

Hey, him napping like this was what made Quick Takes possible today!!

7) and finally, Ella!!

My little sweetheart fashionista turned 7 yesterday, December 1!!!

Happy Birthday to a special daughter and sister!!!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Epic. Fail.


Henry had Physical Therapy this morning with his amazing and incredibly experienced therapist Linda. When I described the scenario below to her, she stated that Henry was probably experiencing episodes of sleep apnea when attempting to lay down and sleep in the back brace. She noted that he works hard to breathe in the brace (as it changes his formerly "normal" breathing posture) and he might not be able to keep up such effort at night, especially when lying down and especially when he goes into deeper sleep and his breathing slows. So no brace tonight (or at naptime). We will be going to our pediatric orthopedic doctor tomorrow and will explain what happened and Linda's opinion. She recommends wearing the back brace all day and then letting him nap and sleep at night without it. 

I am thankful that I have so many people helping us to learn what our little guy needs.

And I have been reminded not to ignore my "mommy instinct" when something does not seem quite right.


Henry's bedtime Monday night started off a bit scattered...

I thought he was not ready to go to bed yet at 8:15pm (he had a loooonnnggg afternoon nap) but he was hungry so I filled up the Haberman feeder and was feeding him on the couch while watching "Gold Rush" with Paul when I noticed his eyes were closing and he was getting a bit cranky...

so I decided to put him up to bed.

His back brace was already on. He had a clean diaper. He had comfy warm jammies.

I laid him down and he finished his bottle and I got him situated on his side with a flat pillow (we have lots of those in our house) under his head to keep his neck aligned with the brace..

I snuggled him a bit and made sure he was asleep and then I left to finish cleaning up the kitchen...

10 minutes later the screaming began.

I ran upstairs and could NOT get him settled down.

We rocked. We walked. We bounced. We laid. We tried a paci (which he promptly threw on the floor) and more bottle (he batted it away).

He started doing this "gurgling" sound in his throat I noticed for the first time in the hospital a few weeks ago.

I think it is his "I am uncomfortable and I am ticked-off about it" noise.

So last night between about 8:45 pm and 11:30 pm went something like this:

Henry screams and gurgles and gasps and almost vomits and thrashes and sweats - 45 minutes.
Henry falls into exhausted sleep - 5 minutes.
Henry wakes in a panic and scream and gurgles and gasps (etc.) - 45 minutes
Henry falls into exhausted sleep - 5 minutes.
Henry wakes screaming and gurgling and gasping (etc.) - 45 minutes
Henry (and mom) fall into exhausted sleep. - 5 minutes
Henry wakes up screaming..................................................

and then I gave up.

The velcro straps were pulled off and the back brace was dropped over the bedrail and Henry was settled back on the flat pillow...

and Henry was asleep in a minute and a half.

We will try again tonight...

or maybe today at naptime....

I will decide after I have my coffee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our newest challenge....

is getting our little Henry a little happier about THIS....

He is wearing his new back brace.

It will do 3 things -

1) Keep his spine from bending too much more than the already 110 degree curvature.

2) Help to strengthen his back and shoulder and core muscles.

3) Puts his chest cavity in a better position for breathing more normally.

But it is is supposed to be to do its job...he will have 2 big areas of red marks on his back where the skin will need to "toughen up" to tolerate this brace....

which he needs to wear 23 hours a day.


no momma likes to see her baby in so much discomfort...

even when it is GOOD for them....

and especially when baby has already spent the first year of his life enduring hospitalizations, malnutrition and life in an orphanage.

I can only handle one day at a time.

One hour at a time.

We receive the grace we need WHEN we need it, not in anticipation of down the road or what might be or even what is definitely coming....

so Lord I ask for the grace Henry and I both need in this very moment....

and in an hour and tonight and tomorrow and next week and next month....

I'll ask again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A slight change in plans....

Remember my last post, giving a preview our upcoming week of October 24-28??

If not, here is a refresher:

Monday - casting for back brace for Henry's scoliosis
Tuesday - physical therapy evaluation (doc wants Henry to have therapy 2-3 times a week)
Wednesday - Early Childhood Intervention evaluation for services through the county
Thursday - Cervical Spine X-Rays and Blood Tests at the Children's Hospital
Friday - mommy and baby stay home and collapse!

Well, there was a slight change in plans that explains my blogging absence. See below:

Monday - same as above
Tuesday - same as above
Wednesday - same as above
Thursday - same as above
Friday - Henry cannot breathe and mommy calls 911 at 8am and mommy and Henry ride in ambulance to hospital where they cannot get his breathing problems under control so mommy and Henry ride in another ambulance to Children's Memorial Hospital in Downtown Chicago where Henry starts running a temperature in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and inbutation is threatened but he gets a bit better in the evening but has another really bad night so we cancel Henry's big baptism and party planned for Saturday afternoon and instead my uncle, Fr. Fanelli, comes out to the PICU with daddy and siblings Sabrina (12, godmother) and Luke (17, godfather) for a grace-filled private Baptism on Saturday afternoon and hope we get to go home Sunday but Henry has another yucky night and needs to get deep suctioned several times so we stay at hospital on Sunday as well (but move out of PICU) and daddy brings youngest 3 to visit mommy in hospital (Henry in isolation due to croup virus) so we go to McDonalds together and play in the family playroom on the 5th floor of the hospital and then mommy stays overnight again on a horrific recliner chair in the new room where Henry FINALLY has a better night so we get discharged and daddy comes to pick us up about 1pm and we get home in time to get the little ones ready for trick-or-treat.

Here is the rundown in pictures...

So now you know ;-)

Happy Feast of All Saints everyone!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A preview of next week...

Monday - casting for back brace for Henry's scoliosis

Tuesday - physical therapy evaluation (doc wants Henry to have therapy 2-3 times a week)

Wednesday - Early Childhood Intervention evaluation for services through the county

Thursday - Cervical Spine X-Rays and Blood Tests at the Children's Hospital

Friday - mommy and baby stay home and collapse!

Enjoy your Friday Photo of Henry and his big brother Logan (who turned 5 last Wednesday)!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our new normal...

...includes lots of doctors visits for this little guy (who gained 9 ounces in about 11 days, YIPPEE!!!)

...and helping my oldest big guy stay calm when his first year of college seems a bit overwhelming....

...and helping my second big guy plan college visits and applications.....

....and helping one daughter navigate being a 12 yo girl and the 6 yo daughter not to feel lost in the middle...

....and helping this almost-5 year old little guy learn that you CAN stand still for more than 2 seconds, you CANNOT have a conversation with your sister about Pokemon during Mass, and that there ARE other things to play with in this house besides Apple electronics...

....and helping this "dress-up" obsessed 2 year old change into various princess and fairy costumes about 47 times a day...

...and trying to make sure I don't forget THIS wonderful man who makes all the above possible for me to do all day.

Lots to do.

I am incapable of doing it alone.

But as I read on someone's blog earlier today...

"I can't. God can. I'll let Him."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

AND the diagnosis is....


The pediatric geneticist at Rush Hospital here in Chicago is positive.

Let's go down the signs and symptoms:

* Joint dislocations (especially of the hips, knees and elbows) - yep, all of the above dislocated on both sides
* Hypermobile joints - the child could be a contortonist
* Depressed nasal bridge - that just means he has a cute tiny nose with a tiny upper lip
* Prominent forehead - I teased Paul when we met Henry that Henry had his daddy's hariline ;-)
* Widely spaced eyes - which are absolutely adorable
* "Spatula-like" thumbs - we wondered if these were a Ukranian thing or something else, now we know
* Cleft palate - check. But it is not too bad of a cleft. The surgeon says one procedure with an overnight    hospital stay and he will be good!
* Curved spine - yep. big time. 110 degrees. probably his most severe problem and one that will need serious surgery (think metal rods and body casts) in the not-too-distant-future
* Cardiovascular anomalies - no. thank the good Lord. Henry's heart seems to be just fine!

It is rare.

How rare? you may ask, as did I.

The geneticist looked at me and said, "Very very rare."

The only way to get a completely 100% diagnosis is genetic testing that is done at one place in the US. They require a payment of several thousand dollars up front and then you chase your own insurance to get some of that money back. We are obviously not so thrilled with this option.

The genetics team at Rush is trying to get Henry into a research study happening somewhere in the world that wants to include Larsens patients, so they took pictures of him and his x-rays and will see if he qualifies to be included. If so, then they would pay for the genetic testing.

What is the treatment for Larsens?

You treat all the symptoms.

He has a cleft palate. You fix it.

He has a curved spine. You fix it.

He has dislocated joints. You fix them.

What is the long-term prognosis?

Some people with Larsens are in a wheelchair. Some ambulate with AFO's or special walkers. Some walk with no assistance after surgery and therapy.

So it seems we are being called to "go with the flow." Proceed with faith...and no real expectation of what will come.

First and foremost we need to deal with Henry's weight gain. The genetics team referred us to a pediatric nutritionist who can hopefully give us some more concrete guidance on how to put some meat on Henry's cute little dislocated bones.....

then we can begin treating his physical conditions.

But the emotional and intellectual healing has already begun and it is moving at light speed!

Henry is a VERY bright little boy! He is starting to enjoy having books read to him. He loves when his big brothers and sisters bring him different toys and items to explore (his current favorites are a pair of Luke's old glasses and a Lightning McQueen car that "zooms" when you pull it back).

He is becoming very attached to me and will cry and fuss if I walk past him without an interaction. He lifts his arms (as much as he can, they are kind of permanently bent) for me to pick him up. If I give him to someone else to hold while I am making dinner, he gives a few little screeches of protest (until they take him outside for a walk, which he just LOVES).

But the best moment recently was when I woke up a few mornings ago to feeling little fingers on my eyes, then nose, then my lips and going into my mouth. Henry sleeps right between me and daddy. And when he woke up before me, he began exploring his mama with a gentle touch.

I opened my eyes.

And he smiled right into them with his fingers still in my mouth.

Thank you Lord for Henry's misdiagnosis. It brought him home to me. To all of us.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The "things-are-not-so-great" Henry Update

I was so looking forward to today's post...

I knew it was going to be a busy week with appointments at the orthopedic doctor and a follow-up appointment with the pediatrician (who specializes in children who come from international adoptions)...

we were going to get information on the severity of Henry's arthrogryposis and hear this local doctor's treatment plan and then I would contact Shriner's in Philadelphia to make arrangements for a consultation and second opinion there...

we were going to see how much weight Henry gained now that he is home and eating well and being loved-on all day...

The orthopedic results first.

Henry does not have arthrogryposis.


That's right.

The diagnosis from his country was wrong.

Sure his feet LOOK like they have arthrogryposis. And it was pretty apparent that his right knee was dislocated, like sometimes happens with arthrogryposis.

But his legs are "wobbly" not stiff. Same with his arms.

The orthopedic doctor did x-rays.

Both of Henry's knees are dislocated. Both of Henry's hips are dislocated. Both of Henry's elbows are dislocated.

Henry has a 110 degree curvature of his spine. Anything over 90 degrees requires surgery or else at about age 5 the twisting of his spine would impinge his breathing so badly that he would eventually suffocate to death.


thank GOD for the mistaken arthrogryposis diagnosis!

Without it Henry would not have been eligible for international adoption until he was 5...

and he probably would have died.

But now our treatment plans are kaput.

The orthopedic doctor does not know WHAT Henry HAS.

It is probably some kind of genetic and/or chromosomal syndrome. So we were referred to a geneticist to get a diagnosis before any orthopedic treatment can proceed. Of course the geneticist he referred us to does not have any appointments available until the end of November, so we may need to search a bit for someone more "available".

Next up, the pediatrician.

He weighed 13 pounds 6 ounces exactly two weeks ago.

We used the same scale yesterday.

He weighed 12 pounds 5 ounces.

I almost passed out.

He has been drinking between 26 and 30 ounces (split between breastmilk and formula) every single day....

but the pediatrician said his little body is like a concentration camp survivor...

he has not had good nutrition for so long his body cannot process it...

it is going right through him.

We are trying a week on a special formula for children with severe food issues...the proteins are already broken down and he should be able to process it more easily...and lots of probiotics to help heal his gut to allow for absorption of protein and nutrients...

the doctor is worried about him getting sick in his frail state...

so am I...

especially with 6 other children at home, 5 of whom are in 5 different schools...

and the weather starting to change to fall here in the south suburbs of Chicago...

So today I am a bit overwhelmed.

In need of prayer.

Please send one up for my little Henry if you can....

and for me...

a worried mama to a baby with an unknown syndrome losing weight in our land of plenty.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Quick Takes Friday - Photo Edition

Time is a 'tickin....Logan and Tessa will only be happy playing together for a few more minutes and Henry's morning nap should end very soon as well, so here is my contribution for this Friday (thanks to Jen for hosting!, the Feast of St. Pio (Padre Pio), one of my heavenly favs and a fellow Italian...

oh, since he was a Capuchin monk and cappuccino was named after the light brown of their robes, go and have a warm milky coffee in tribute!!

1)  I can now easily do things like a "Photo Edition" thanks to my wonderful husband who heeded my pleas for a smartphone and bought me an iPhone last week...with 7 children "baby books" and carrying a separate camera around will not happen, so my last several children's lives will be documented on my blog and Facebook...they can bring this up in therapy later...

2)  Now I can easily memorialize cuteness like this, where Ella, Logan and Tessa were playing "sleep" on the basement stairs...

3)  Sometimes, due to his small size and physical limitations, I forget that Henry is almost 1 (tomorrow!!!) and has a 1 year old boy he likes construction stuff, especially he begins by grabbing the tower off his sister's creation...

4) Then working on the base of the tower...

5) Then he rolled over while holding the base (YAY! Strong boy!)...

6) Then he looked a bit like he surprised himself!!!

7) Finally, if you saw the Season Premier of "The Office" last night you will know what the Dobrovits family was doing in our kitchen last night...

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

No pain. No gain.

Today I went a bit out of my comfort zone and took my four little ones (Ella -6, Logan-4, Tessa-2, and Henry-1 in 6 days!) to an apple orchard to join Logan's preschool class for a field trip.

It went surprisingly well.

No one got lost, hurt another child, or had a major meltdown...

well, Henry had a little meltdown, but that can once again be attributed to his poop/gas issues so I will not blame him personally ;-)

We picked apples and drank freshly pressed cider and learned about bees and ran through a hay-bale maze and fed goats and enjoyed all the pumpkins.

And then, because I am a sucker for homemade goodies (whether I or someone else makes them is irrelevant), we went inside to the shop to buy caramel apples and cider and homemade fudge.

The fudge lady admired the baby and I gave my standard reply, "Thanks! He just came home from Ukraine!" and then she saw my other 3 in the cart and gave the standard reply of  "My! You must have your hands full with 4!" and I gave standard reply Number 2 which is, "Well, I have 7 total, some are at school."

She stopped cold.

And her next reply was something I never have experienced before and never wish to again.

She said, "I had 11. And I wish I hadn't. There is too much pain. I told all my children not to have so many. You should not have any more."

I was speechless. There is no standard reply to that.

She looked broken. She looked at me with pity.

I wanted to say, "But to miss the pain, I would have to miss the JOY of my more than 2.3 children!! I know that much pain is coming with my sweet baby with special needs, but SO MUCH GOOD is coming too!! God strengthens us through the tough times and makes the good times even sweeter!!"

But my children were getting antsy and so I took my fudge and wished her a good day and then drove home.

And thought about the exchange all the hour-long ride back.

Sure, having children can bring physical and emotional and spiritual pain to their parents.

Lots of things that are worthwhile can cause pain.

Going to law school.

Running a marathon.

The risk of falling in love.

Picking up the poorest of the poor off the streets of Calcutta ("Mother Teresa, maybe you should do something a bit less taxing with your will be too painful to you and your fellow nuns to minister to the sick and orphaned and dying...")

So should we avoid all of these because of the chance of pain???

I think not.

Please join me today praying for the fudge lady and all those who refuse to risk the pain to do the good they know deep in their hearts that they should do.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Sure, it is cool to hear "Boy you are amazing!" and "Wow! I could never do what you are doing!"

but here is the reality...

Paul had to go to a back-to-school night for Sabrina, Luke was babysitting (for another family that had back-to-school night) and Sabrina went along to play with their daughter, and Brent was out at choir practice for St. Anthony. I was home with the youngest four.

About 6:30pm, a gal who works with Paul stopped by to graciously give us their outgrown baby monitor for us to use (ours from Tessa was broken when I took it out to use this week for Henry). She has a lovely 3 year old daughter...

and I have probably scared her out of having any more children.

Henry was screaming and screaming because he had to poop (he does every single time, plan to ask the doctor about it later today)....

Logan (4yo) was AT Tessa (2yo) and then Ella (6yo) and Logan were playing tug of war with a hula hoop and screaming at each other...

Logan had his shirt off and Tessa was finally tired of him bothering her so she BIT HIM IN THE BACK....he starts screaming for me to send Tessa to "time out".....

Ella was souped up on i-don't-know-what (sugar? caffeine? mommy being home??) and starting doing laps around our hallway with a full size hula hoop banging the walls and everything else she passed...

I have never been so embarassed in my life! I must have looked completely incapable of caring for the six children I already HAVE much less one more with special needs...

God LOVES a humble heart (and makes sure I am working on obtaining one)!!

Off for Henry's first post-adoption doctor appointment this afternoon...

Please pray for his many medical needs and have a blessed weekend with your own crazy bunch!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

24 Hours

Intellectually, I know I met Henry less than 2 weeks ago...

Intellectually, I know we are not biologically related...

Intellectually, I know that I cannot erase an entire year of being in an orphanage in one day...

But after 24 hours together, I can truly say...

I would die for him.

Just like all of my children.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One goes. One stays.

This afternoon I was again allowed to take Henry outside in a small courtyard in the back of the orphanage. As we walked in the stroller (which needs to keep moving or else Henry starts screeching) I prayed the rosary, the “Hail Mary’s” repeated as I walked back and forth at least a hundred times over the 40 foot long sidewalk I was allowed to use (and told not to go any farther).

One hour into our two hour visiting session, an older couple came and sat on a bench at the other end of the sidewalk. The woman in a babushka. The man well-tanned and in well-worn work clothes. The orphanage worker seemed to know them well as she greeted them from inside…and then brought out a little one to them.

At first I could not see if the child was a boy or girl. But I could see the child probably had Cerebral Palsy. The little legs were so skinny. The older man had to support her up on his lap to stand.

Henry was getting cranky so I had to get the stroller moving past them. I greeted them and they smiled and greeted back. I saw they had a little blonde doll out for the child, so I now assumed she was a little girl. When I got closer I could also see the little one’s eyes were terribly crossed. As Henry and I walked back and forth they played with the child…sang to her…the older man hugged and bounced her and she laughed…the older woman took off her socks and rubbed her feet and legs….they played with the doll with her.

I died inside.

I knew I was bringing my Henry home…to medical treatment…to a big loving family.

This little girl was probably having her weekly visit with her grandparents. She will not have her eyes treated. She will not receive physical therapy. She will be institutionalized about age 5 and will never go to school. If she cannot walk, she will probably be left in a “lying down room” and rarely ever taken outside. For the rest of her life.

The orphanage worker came at 3pm to bring Henry back into the orphanage…for the last night. Tomorrow is “Gotcha Day” when I get to take him with me and he will never have to go back to his old life with no future.

But not this little girl.

As I left to go to my cab waiting to take me back to my lovely rented home, I went up to the woman and gave her the Usborne “touch and feel” book with colorful animals I had brought to Ukraine and read to Henry on visits these past two weeks. I motioned it was for the little girl, for grandma to read and her to touch as I said and pantomimed, “My baby. America. Tomorrow.”

And despite the fact that I know no Ukrainian and the older woman did not know any English…

The woman understood.

That I had adopted my Henry (she saw his bent and useless legs as we walked) and that he had a future.

And her granddaughter did not. And the tears ran from her eyes.

And mine.

I beg you - go to and see if God is calling you to either save one of these sweet children or to donate money so that another family can.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Official!!!

We are now the parents of HENRY AUGUSTIN DOBROVITS!!!

Henry was Paul's mom's dad's name...

and his middle name is in honor of the Augustinian order of priests who educated Paul (and my Dad and 3 of my brothers!) at St. Rita High School here in Chicago!

We have been "paper-chasing" like crazy yesterday after court and again today to get Henry's birth certificate and passport and court documents translated... because Paul will go home soon and I will stay until all the legalities are completed to bring Henry back (in about another week).

This might be your last "fix" of Henry pics for the week...I do not know how to upload the pics from Paul's camera, so while I will still be TAKING them as we complete our time here in Henry's country, you will have to wait to SEE them until we get home!!!

We can all work on developing the virtue of patience this coming week ;-)

Sunday, August 28, 2011


The weather has been amazingly beautiful every single day here in Henry's country.

Except for the first day. For the first minutes where we had to walk down OUTDOOR steps from the airplane and then sprint ACROSS the runway into a bus while it was POURING rain!!

Really, since then it has been sunny with blue skies and between 70 and 80 degrees every day.

We have been cooped-up indoors with Henry for all of his they do not believe in little children being outdoors too much...especially little ones with health problems like our Henry - before this last 10 day hospitalization for bronchitis he has had at least one other hospitalization for pneumonia and one for chicken pox in his first year of life...

but today we asked and today we got the OK to bring Henry outside for some sun...

and a stroll....

my, but he LOVES the stroller!!!

The minutes daddy would stop, little insistent sounds that could be translated as "keep it moving" would start...

so move we did!

Can't wait to stroll him all over the south suburbs of Chicago!!

Please pray we get the call Monday that court is scheduled for Tuesday!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last visit in hospital....

Henry was released back to the orphanage this afternoon, a few hours after our morning visit.

Now we get to visit him twice a day...and maybe even go for a walk outside....

or maybe we will just sit and cuddle and read...


it's all good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


God is good, we were able to meet our sweet boy on Friday in the hospital! First we had a meeting with the orphanage director and pediatrician and some of the staff with our lawyer Natasha and translator Kate...they gave us his medical history (he had chicken pox a few months ago and pneumonia in the past as well)...they said all his caregivers love him, he knows who they are and who are strangers and he understands what they tell him...they said he loves toys and is very "active" (which should fit in very well with my other 6 children!)....they were so very glad he was going to have a family and a chance at a good life, one nurse asked if it is really true that doctors here in America could help him walk someday, we explained through the interpreter what the orthopedic doc told us about treatment and she welled up with tears, Kate said she was so happy we could get him help.... we were then allowed to go visit him at the nearby hospital with a nurse from the orphanage...

we went into a hospital (older brick buildings, we would not even considering someplace that looks like that for our medical treatment here in the US) and it was clean and sunny a small room with one bench by a window and one small changing table they brought him in...he was awakened to see us and was clearly a bit upset, making "mewing" kinds of sounds...

he had a pacifier in....and the biggest grey-blue eyes (very like my oldest son's!) I have ever seen, they take up his whole face!! He is so very tiny, probably only about 10 pounds (he just turned 1 on July 24)...he can roll over but he cannot sit up...he can grab things with his hands (like my hair!) and takes his pacifier out and holds it and then tries to put it back in....he blows raspberries and he smiled and giggled a bit when I blew them on his neck...his eyes tracked everything but it seemed to tire him out...he got very overstimulated after a bit and instead of snuggling into me he wanted to be put down...he had sores on his right thumb (looks like he sucks on it for comfort) and 2 teeth on the top and 4 on the bottom...he needed to lay and look at the wall for a bit to calm down...then after a while he looked back at me and would make eye contact and I rewarded him with kisses on his cheeks, which he seemed to like...

his legs/hips are VERY affected by the arthrogryposis, he can move them but they "flail" about...his chest muscles are probably also involved as it is like he is permanently arching back (although that could also be because of his larger head on the tiny body and lack of muscle tone)...his fingers and hands are also involved but not as severely as he can reach and grab VERY well and seems to have very good hand-eye coordination...

I am in love.