When Your Day Begins at the Brain Surgeon, You Know it Could be a Tough One

Craniectomy, huh? Laminectomy too? Oh well, here we go. God help us.

The Short Version: Alexandra goes to a specialist this Monday for a pre-surgery consultation. The outcome seems certain: Major surgery to remove parts of her skull and two vertebrae due to a malformation. Months of recovery. Thousands of dollars we don't yet have. (If you already feel the urge to help out, just click HERE.)

From the time Alex came to stay with us in CasaNext we were a little alarmed. Her natural beauty may have masked it, but it became evident she couldn't read, and even had difficulty with simple tasks. It was dawning on us that she may never really be able to care for herself. Then we noticed tremors. Slow speech. Headaches. Odd outbursts. And then difficulty swallowing. Finally the coughing after a bad cold revealed it; a stabbing pain at the back of her head. That led us to the doctor, which led to the diagnosis: Arnold-Chiari malformation.

For a sweet treat, scroll through all the pictures. There is also a video below showing an animated demo of the proposed surgery.

The Longer Version: We don't take in just anyone, but when we do take one in, it's for keeps. Some are easy, and some are hard. And even though she's as sweet as she is cute, Alexandra is what you'd call a "hard one". 

Alexandra came to us by way of her brother, Ciprian. Like the rest, they have an "orphan-story" to tell that would absolutely curl your hair. We met the two five years ago in an orphanage. (Warning! Adorable picture alert!) Ciprian has been the light of our life, and we often said that he alone would be adequate reward for transplanting ourselves into Romania. Alexandra kept some distance, but Ciprian always told us his dream was to "take care of his sister forever."

Last year he confided that he was badly worried that Alexandra, then age 19. had fallen into a deep depression. After quick deliberation we acted swiftly to take her out of the orphanage. She was delighted with her new home: Safe, quiet and brimming with love. 

Since graduation was near and we had little sense of her progress, we went to conference with her teachers. There we learned that months earlier she had completely quit participating at school. (She did graduate, but only because the Next Generation girls worked like mad to finish her final project and homework for her.)


Alexandra is a bit of an enigma, possibly explained by this ailment. Testing revealed an IQ of just 70, and her incapacity bears that out. On the other hand, that IQ just doesn't fit someone who is so...refined. Who ever heard of a retarded person so ultra clean and well put together, and with such wit? Strangely enough, she writes nicely but is unable to read, and filling out a simple form is out of the question.

The fact that she's beautiful is no comfort. At just 4 feet and 11 inches, her luminous blonde hair reaches her waist. And she needn't toss the hair to attract attention. She is a rare type whose small body sits atop long legs with graceful arms. Her head is broad and round like a cartoon character, drawn with impossibly large brown eyes that compete for space with an elfish grin. But attention is no blessing when you're an orphan girl with an IQ of 70.

When we offered to take her in to CasaNext, she had few options. Suicide ranked high at #2. But her first option is what most orphan girls do when they can't attend university: Professional girlfriend. She had a standing offer from a guy she'd gone out with once that she could go live in Bucharest with him. But when she realized she actually had options, she was so excited! We required her stay with us as a guest and observer for a week, but she was all in to join the Next family.

Blessedly Alex loves quiet and much prefers to stay home cleaning and scrubbing and washing and straightening. But on the occasions when she meets a boy she likes, she absolutely bubbles over, more like a girl of seven years that one of twenty. Simply put, she is not ready to live in the world. Not yet. Maybe never.

It could have been YOU to reach out and take her into your life. But as fate had arranged, she came to us instead. Would you have said yes? COULD you have said yes? Would you now?

What will it all cost? Honesty, we don't know the cost of her surgery and care. And we don't know how we'll pay for it, except out of the tight CasaNext food and rent budget. Thank God it will be just a few thousand, and not a few hundred-thousand as we'd expect in the USA.

But we absolutely need your help. We need you to say yes. You can make a HUGE difference with what you have jingling around in your stocking.

Click here if you wanna be awesome.

 To view the video, click and then scroll down the landing page to find the video.


One more try. Wanna help? It matters a lot.


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  • I am eager to hear how the surgery went. This is so said for her, but hopefully a great opportunity for her to get the surgery. I just had my Castle Band Craft Show and will deposit the money on Saturday. I can’t get to the bank until then and will mail my check in. I know it is not much, especially split between 3 mission teams, but please know I am thinking of you so often and praying for all of you. You are doing such great work. I found two other ladies through one of my craft shows that were interested in your mission and gave them the website. I am hoping they will become supporters. Love to you all there in Romania.//Kay

    • Kay Rose