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Even though Carrington was born over 4 years ago her story truly began just a mere 10 months ago. My husband Brian and I had already completed one international adoption of three 5 1/2 year olds with Down Syndrome from an orphanage in Eastern Europe and we thought our family was complete. We knew there were so many orphans who needed families so we chose a little girl to advocate for. She was transferred to an adult mental institution that was in terrible condition with a director who would not even tell us if she was alive until her family arrived, but no family came forward. Our hearts asked God why and the answer we received was that we were to be her family. Now we had only been home 3 months from our first adoption and going overseas again and raising a large sum of money was not on our radar. After much prayer we committed to her. But we were informed that this little girl may not even be alive and would we want to consider another child? Our decision was ‘yes’ and we committed to a little girl who went by the name of Anastasia and was almost 4 years old with Down Syndrome.
Doors were swung wide open and people were placed in our paths that helped us complete our dossier in less than 4 weeks. Off we went to Eastern Europe once again. This particular adoption was full of tumultuous events and people that were less than honest but we still moved forward. Little Anastasia, who we named Carrington, was not a 4 year old one would expect to see. We met a frightened little girl with a shaved head who was so very small. Carrington was the size of a 6 month old and could not do any milestones that a child even that age could do. Each visit with Carrington was painful because our little girl would do nothing but throw up the whole time we held her and she would cry out in pain because we were touching her. Almost every single tooth in her mouth was broken or infected so she did not want anything near her mouth or face. Due to cultural inhibitors, Carrington wasn’t given the same level of care that many children in her orphanage were given. Each time we went to pick Carrington up for a visit or return her from our time together we could tell that her caregivers had distanced themselves emotionally from her. Come to find out some time later, Carrington was placed in a room commonly known as a “laying room” also known as a “dying room.” Resources are limited in institutions the world over and Carrington’s birth country is no different. Caregivers often choose which children to care for, which children live or die. These workers had decided that Carrington was one of the children they were unable to care for. Carrington was fed only once per day so she wouldn’t soil herself as often. She was fed a broth-like substance made from tea. Yes, tea! This would be poured into her mouth from a glass bottle with a very floppy nipple whose tip had been cut off. Not only was she not getting the nutrition a baby should have but it was forced down her throat at a rate which produced massive aspiration. This continued for the 7 weeks we were there and then finally the day came when we rescued my sweet Princess.
The day we took Carrington from her former home was one of the worst days of my life because it was only then that I was able to see what had been done to my daughter. I went to dress Carrington for her bath and when I removed her clothing what I saw caused me to cry out in extreme disgust. My baby was so severely emaciated that every bone in her body protruded and her skin looked like latex stretched over a skeletal frame. She looked like a victim of a concentration camp. In the orphanage, we were not allowed to undress her from the many layers of clothing she wore. We knew she was small but not starved to near death. Even her diaper was stuffed with receiving blankets to make it appear she was healthier than she really was. One of the hardest parts for me to accept is the fact that Carrington had a godmother from the church who was sending money to the orphanage director to buy Carrington special food, but clearly Carrington was never given that food. We were instructed by our pediatrician via Skype to give Pedialyte to Carrington via a syringe with just 2mL every 20 minutes. My poor angel could not even keep this down and each passing day she tolerated less and less. We were reaching the desperation point and I was very scared. We had not too long ago held our very premature infant son (whom we adopted) as he passed away slowly in our arms. So we knew the stages of organ shutdown and what that meant. Carrington was mirroring those very symptoms. I was down on my knees in prayer asking for God to help her hold on until we could get to the United States for I wanted my baby to live through this horror so that she could see the joys of life with a loving family that cared for her every need. After a grueling 6 days we boarded a train and then 3 planes for the 30 hour trip home. At one point, while waiting for immigration in the Houston airport to declare Carrington a citizen of the United States, I thought my little girl had left me to go play in Heaven. The whole trip not one sound or movement was made by Carrington and I had to prove to customs that indeed I did have an almost 4 year old nestled in a sling next to my chest. Upon arrival at the airport my husband rushed us to the hospital. The ER staff took one look at Carrington and immediately took us to a room where a team of top medical professionals came scurrying in and out. Not one soul could believe that this frightened, very lifeless little girl was almost 4 years old and was weighing in just shy of 11 pounds. I was told that Carrington did not even have 24 hours of life left within her broken body. That day was March 17, 2011 and we began a 5 week stay at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
Carrington was so emaciated and dehydrated the doctors had to be extremely cautious of refeeding syndrome, which is an electrolyte imbalance that can occur when someone who is severely malnourished begins receiving nutrition and which can lead to complications including death. So many tests and procedures had to be scheduled. An EKG was done but not fully because Carrington did not have any fat on her to enable the images to be taken. Carrington’s brain scan showed that she had agenesis of the corpus collosum and that her brain had shrunk due to malnutrition. Carrington was not able to take in any nutrition by mouth so an NG tube had to be placed. She laid in a baby swing day after day just trying to allow her body to take in the nutrition and care it so desperately needed. Finally, after a few weeks of weight gain, the danger of refeeding syndrome had passed, and Carrington had a g-button placed so food could be put directly into her stomach. She had a fundoplication done so the food would stay down. She even had all of her baby teeth removed due to each one being abscessed and broken. Every specialist, doctor, nurse, care partner and social worker who came within 2 feet of Carrington would stand in disgust that a child could become so sick. Her country was unable to care for her but we, her family, saw Carrington as a caterpillar waiting for the right time to unfold her true beauty as a precious butterfly.
Today, 9 months later, Carrington is breaking past each milestone she meets. She now weighs 26 pounds, has grown over 5 inches in length, went from wearing 3 month clothing to 24 months, and has a smile that lights up our whole world. Carrington is able to sit, roll over from side to side, scoot along our floor in hopes of catching the dog, and has started to play with toys. It has been a long road to her recovery, a road that she never should have had to travel. Basic nutrition and hydration could have prevented so much. Carrington did not go through all of this without touching thousands of lives all over the world. Her story has inspired 10 families to commit to adopting orphans from Eastern Europe. That means 10 more lives have been saved all because God placed on our hearts to bring home Carrington. She soon will become sister to two boys who are orphans and have been blessed with extra 21st chromosomes. Her two newest brothers are also in extreme dire condition and are in need of a family and medical attention quickly. Kelten is a 12 year old who weighs only 26 pounds and Teagan is a 4 1/2 year old weighing only 14 pounds. As we work tirelessly to raise the remaining funds needed to bring our boys home all we need to do is look at Carrington to know that somehow we will raise the money and we will bring our boys home so they too can experience the same love of a family that helped bring our Carrington back from the doorstep of death.
Follow the many blessings that our Princess Carrington brings us at carringtonscourage.blogspot.com and our journey to bring her two newest brothers home at atorchforteagan.blogspot.com.
The Nutrition Profiles on this site express the views of the individual authors and not SPOON Foundation. SPOON Foundation has not conducted any independent verification of the information contained in the Nutrition Profiles. As a result, SPOON Foundation makes no representations concerning, and assumes no responsibility for, the accuracy of the information or the appropriateness of advice contained in the Nutrition Profiles. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from the Nutrition Profiles with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your child’s physician.