Thursday, February 18, 2016

Katerina – Pure Joy

The referral picture we received of Katerina only gave us a little hint of the constantly smiling little girl with an infectious laugh we’ve come to adore.


Like her brothers, when we first met our daughter in July of last year, she was a wee bit timid. However, in less than 10 minutes, she was begging her new daddy to pick her up and hold her. Happily, he was more than willing to take “Miss K” into his arms.

Interesting to note…with Katerina (and her younger brother too), she had to be “taught” how to be held. As strange as it sounds, she wouldn’t even bend her knees in order to wrap her legs around her daddy. She was as stiff as a plank of wood with legs straight down, a clear indicator of a lack of that intimate TLC from a parent. But if you could see her now…a totally different child!

As the middle sibling of the three, and the only girl, Katerina might appear to have a disadvantage, but this girl can hold her own with her brothers. While they fight like normal siblings, she is very protective of them and vice versa. She’s always the first to say “I love you” and offer hugs to her brothers. As for her little foster brother, she adores him and thinks of him as her very own baby doll. Anytime our little guy does something Katerina finds adorable, she’s say “Mama…look at dat…awww…” in her cute little big sissy voice.

When we chose her name…Katerina Abigail…we chose a popular name in her part of the world (Ekaterina) with a more western spelling. It was after we chose her name, we looked up the meaning…Pure! A broken little girl with a highly fragmented first few years of life, a name meaning of “pure” seemed to fit. I’ve always loved the name Abigail, and I suggested it to Joel. He loved it too. We then looked up the meaning to make sure it was acceptable as well…JOY! Our little Katerina Abigail = Pure Joy! And that she has been to us and to so many that cross her path!

Some fun facts about Katerina:

  • She has the best “please” and “thank you” manners out of all our little ones.
  • Music and dancing are two of her favorite things. Anytime a song comes on…Katerina starts to move and will show anybody in her line of sight.
  • She loves BIG! One of the most authentically caring and tender hearts I know.
  • While she never stops moving, she can play with blocks for hours – sorting and stacking.
  • She cries the least (and sometimes never) at the doctor’s office – even after getting immunizations.
  • She cries the most whenever she gets even the smallest of boo boos at home, especially if her brothers are involved.
  • She likes washing her own hair and is better at it than all of our other littles.
  • This girl LOVES her fruit – especially bananas!
  • She is a mini-mommy. Whether it’s her foster brother or her baby dolls, she is very caring and nurturing.
  • She is a daddy’s girl!
  • She loves to play with basketballs (any bouncing balls for that matter) and can be entertained for hours.
  • She is quite popular among her classmates – the little girls dote all over her and are very protective of her.

Soon after Katerina arrived home, we noticed her documented developmental delays appeared to be a little more profound. After several doctor appointments, our little girl is suspected of having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. While disappointing to learn, we know God still has HUGE things planned for her life, and we thank Him for allowing us to be part of that plan. She will be having some significant testing done on March 31 to confirm the diagnosis. Praying friends – we welcome your prayers on behalf of our family in this regard especially. Please pray that if the diagnosis is confirmed…

  1. Katerina has a mild case (we already know it’s not severe) and is able to overcome many of her disabilities.
  2. We are able to find and put the proper supports in place to give her the fullest and most productive life possible.
  3. That God equips us to handle such a diagnosis and all that it might entail.

Thank you for your love and support as we navigate this amazing life as adoptive and foster parents of the little four in addition to our older five bio children! You are an encouragement and blessing to us!






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  1. Love this post too. Pure Joy, that’s a special attribute to her name and is what I noticed oozing out of her in your pictures. Praying that her diagnosis is mild, and believing that she has an amazing life before her. Thanks again for sharing these babies…

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      Thank you Shari! She really DOES ooze that pure joy! I’ve never seen a little one who delights in the simplest of things like Katerina does but is also so sensitive to the pain of others. She is a blessing!


  1. […] on my children’s introduction posts this past week. Now that you’ve met Josiah and Katerina a little more deeply, stay tuned for one more on Benjamin. That post will be up next […]

  2. […] to Katerina, Benjamin had to be taught how to be held. He wanted me to pick him up and carry him everywhere […]

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