who’s that girl


With that title, I know all you 70’s babies are thinking … Madonna!!! So here’s the 1987 video. You’re welcome.

Anyways, back to the point … since the announcement of Ma’s return (today!!), I’ve gotten a handful of questions. Maybe two handfuls. But who’s counting? So I thought I’d answer a few of them.

Who’s that girl?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ma … and for those of you who have nodded your suspicious head … or given a skeptical thumbs-up … or looked dubiously at Pippa when she has said she has a younger sister … here’s the 411:

Ma is a near 5-year-old girl from Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, who has spent over 2 years of her short life with our family being treated for retinoblastoma, eye cancer. She first joined our family at the end of summer 2013 after having her first eye removed. We walked her through chemotherapy, radiation, and the making of a prosthetic eye at the University of Michigan Hospital, then sent her back home (cancer-free) nearly exactly two year ago. She then came back to the States for a check-up 6 months later (October 2015). The check-up was great (i.e. cancer still in remission), but she developed a severe case of malaria (contracted in Africa, of course) about 10 days after her arrival and spent more nights in the hospital than she ever did when she had cancer, believe it or not. (Oh, and one of those helicopters flying over your A2 houses at night was her contraband meds.)

Are you adopting her?

No. She has an awesome mom and dad, and three older brother looking out for her in her hometown in Cote d’Ivoire. We liken our experience with Ma to fostering.

Ma or May?

This is the question that has plagued us for a while. We called her May while she was here, only to find out two years later that it’s actually Ma, like Little House on the Prairie “Ma”. To us, she is still May-May.

How long will she stay?

It will all depend on her exams, but best guess? Ma will be with us 2-3 months. Her first exam under anesthesia is on May 9th. This will give us a good idea of what’s going on in her eye. We’re hoping for a super boring exam with nothing new to report except that her tumor remains in remission and nothing suspicious is present. If that’s the case, she will see her oncologist, her ocularist (who will decide if she needs a new prosthetic eye), her audiologist (who will test her hearing which can be affected by her chemo drugs), her ophthalmologist (to test her vision and see if there’s anything we can do to improve it), her general physician (who will update her on her regular vaccines), and (just for fun) a travel clinic to get her a vaccine for yellow fever … which she contracted along with another case of malaria while at home a while ago.

Does she remember you?

We’ll see! I pick her up today in Columbus. I’m not expecting her to remember me, but I’m hoping for at least a comforting, subconscious knowledge that she is safe with me. Last time when she returned after 6  months, she seemed to remember things once she got back to our house. They say memory begins around the age of 3 or 4. She was last here when she was 3 1/2.

Does she remember English?

There is no doubt she will have forgotten all her English, so communication will take the form of hand gestures for a while. Last time she picked back up her English pretty quickly … within in a couple of weeks.

Is there anything you need?

I don’t think so. I’m assuming she can wear some of Pippa’s clothes/shoes for starters. We’ll send out an APB to local friends when we ascertain her size and what we might need. We already have a couple of people bringing meals next week, which is awesome. I’ve had a couple people ask about donating money for her ticket. We covered the cost this time. However, if you are so inclined, please visit the mission website (Children’s Medical Missions West) and donate for another child’s trip. It costs anywhere from $1500-2000 to bring a child here. That covers medical check-ups in their home country, the visa application, and the plane ticket. Hosts families (like us) provide food, clothing, shelter, etc. The medical expenses are generously donated by various doctors and hospitals.


I’m sure I haven’t answered all the questions, but it’s time for me to sign off and leave soon to pick up our African princess. Love to you all!

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