This is a continuation of “The Crouse Story”- if you don’t know how the Crouse story began.. please read “Alex.”

The year was 2002 and Mary Crouse knew that while Alex was a truly blessing and as she puts it ‘the fantasy adoption’ (everything went perfectly) she knew she wanted another child.  She did not want Alex to grow up alone.

She called the social worker at AIAA (adoption agency where she had gotten Alex) and said that “she wanted to put in her order for another child.”  Mary wanted a Bulgarian, with a clef pallete and it didn’t matter… boy or a girl.  The social worker advised her that it might be a little while to find another child but to hold tight.  It took 7 whole days before Mary received a call about a 5 month old little girl that had a clef pallete and her parents had signed their rights away.  Alex was going to have a sister! They would call her Jessi. 

The adoption process moved forward as it had in Alex’s story.  The Crouse’s had been through this process before and so the paperwork was a breeze.  When Jessi was 8 months old they were able to go to Bulgaria and see their daughter for the first time. It was January of 2003.  Jessi was beautiful, fine and healthy and weighted 10 lbs. Bulgarian law requires you to come and see the child and “approve” and  when you leave the finalization of the adoption process begins in the court system in Bulgaria.

Nine months later in October of 2003 the adoption was final in Bulgaria and it was  time to pick Jessi up and bring her home.  Alex, the big brother was now 5 1/2 years old.  Remember that Alex’s adoption was “the fairy tale adoption- so smooth.”  Unfortunately, it would not be the same for Jessi.

Mary flew to Bulgaria with her son Alex to bring Jessi home.  Jessi was now 16 months old. However, when Mary saw her- something had changed.  The 7 month old little girl who was so full of life – interactive, curious, playing…didn’t have the same cheerful demeanor about her.   She had gone from acting and looking “normal” to almost being autistic.  What had happened?  What changed?  What have you done to my daughter?

After further inquiry, the only conclusion Mary came to was that Jessi had her first surgery on her pallette in Bulgaria before she was one.  After that surgery, Jessi  was placed in isolation for 30 days.  While in isolation, they had her hands wrapped which was very traumatic to Jessi.  At this point, Jessi weighed 16 lbs and clearly malnourished.  But Mary was determined to get her back on track.

One of the biggest challenges coming home was airport travel.   Alex’s adoption was pre 9-11 and Jessi would be after 9-11.   Being in an airport half way around the world with a 5 1/2 year old and a 16 month old (with challenges) was nothing short of difficult.  Alex had a Bulgarian passport and an American green card… she was an American traveling with a foreign child (ren) and it was tough.

Jessi cried for 45 minutes every hour while on the plane.  She seemed to do better when she was in a pouch close to Mary facing outward.   But because it was post 9-11 and they were flying through New York, Mary was forced to take her out of the pouch going through security and customs which of course caused the crying to start again.

They made it back to Texas and Jessi was not improving.  She was rigid, she sucked the back of her hand, constantly crying and rocking her head.  Mary says that it was almost like Jessi had given up her will to live.   Again- WHAT HAPPENED to my daughter?

UP NEXT…. Therapy and the Turnaround

Categories: JESSI


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