Two Adoptions Expand a Family’s Size and Hearts
Katie, who has Down syndrome, was suffering from long-term deliberate underfeeding and neglect like many other children with special needs in her orphanage. At 9 1/2 years old, Katie weighed 10 1/2 pounds and was wearing clothing for 1-year-olds. Katie's development was permanently damaged by her early treatment.
But none of that mattered to Joe and Susanna Musser, who adopted Katie in November 2011, just three months after first visiting her in Pleven, Bulgaria, thanks to a USCIS officer expediting the second adoption stage. Katie has been growing - she weighs nearly 40 pounds and wears clothing for 5- and 6-year-olds. Susanna said, "She has come such a long way and is learning many skills one step at a time. She takes such enormous joy in life and has brought nothing but pure joy to our family!"
When the Mussers saw Tommy in the orphanage while visiting Katie, his smile grabbed their hearts. He was also extremely developmentally delayed and permanently damaged by lifelong profound neglect. In 2012 they inquired about whether Tommy was available for adoption. Even understanding the profound level of neglect at this orphanage, they were stunned to learn that this small child was 15 years old and in his final year of eligibility for adoption. "At that time, we thought we didn’t qualify to adopt again, and I was heartbroken," Susanna said.
After their advocacy efforts did not result in a family for Tommy, the Mussers learned from a USCIS officer that they qualified to adopt again, and in August 2012 they committed to their newest family member. Their USCIS officer helped them speed through the process and they adopted him before he turned 16. "He is a sweetheart through and through, even when he’s being a stinker with a twinkle in his eyes," Susanna said.
The Musser Kids at Home
The Mussers feel privileged to have the amazing survivors Katie and Tommy in their family, along with their other children. Joe and Susanna have given these two children so much, but she says, “They give us more than we could ever give them.”