Christine Dhanagom

Kala’s hope: a family remembers a baby that defied the odds

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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August 10, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) -  “Why do you even want to bother?”

Elizabeth and Hugh Poza were stunned by the question. Coming from the doctor whose help they had hoped to enlist in curing their daughter’s deafness, it seemed a rejection of the very worth of her life.
 
At ten months, their little girl, Kala Marie, had a huge medical file. She had begun life with profound deafness, severe congenital heart defects, a cleft lip and palate, seizures, and lung problems that made her dependent on a tracheostomy (a tube inserted into her throat) to breathe. 
 
A surgery at birth had corrected her cleft lip and palate, and her parents hoped that her ears were developed enough to benefit from cochlea implants. They had to fight just to obtain the exam that would determine whether she could receive the implants.
 
It was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that the couple found themselves defending the dignity of Kala’s life.
 
When doctors told the Pozas at five months’ gestation about Kala’s condition, they delivered a grim prognosis: the baby would most likely die in utero, or shortly after birth. If she survived, her quality of life, the couple was told, would be “nothing.”  They were encouraged to consider an abortion.
 
Instead, the family went shopping for baby clothes and began preparing a nursery to welcome their second child. 
 
“I don’t care what kind of life it is that comes into this world or how long it is. Every life is precious,” said Elizabeth, in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.
 
While it turned out that Kala’s ears were not developed enough for the implants, the little girl who was supposed to have “no quality of life,” went on to attend a school for the deaf and became fluent in sign language.
 
She overcame all the odds merely by surviving. But she didn’t just survive. For the five-and-a-half years that God gave her on earth, Kala lived her life to the fullest and touched countless other lives with her infectious joy and hope, says Elizabeth.
 
From the moment of her birth, it was clear that Kala was determined to live. Just drawing her first breath was a struggle, but she conquered it. After one brief, peaceful moment in her mother’s arms, her heart-rate plummeted and she was whisked away for treatment. She spent the next nine-and-a-half months in the hospital and had to be put into a medically induced coma.
 
Gradually, she recovered and gained strength. Doctors warned the family that she may never even be able to sit erect, but she doggedly passed each benchmark: she sat, crawled, stood, walked, learned to communicate, and, just before her death, learned to breathe without her tracheostomy.
 
“I was so impressed with her fighting spirit, because she defied all odds, and it was almost like, ‘Ha-ha, look at me,’” Elizabeth said, with a laugh.

And her family members say through it all, she just never stopped smiling. “She could send God’s joy through a room in seconds,” says Kala’s paternal grandmother Karen Poza.

According to one of Kala’s aunts, Marie Hennessy, the entire extended family quickly realized that it was not Kala who needed them, but they who needed Kala.  

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She was “a beacon,” Marie says, remembering how Kala’s warm, loving nature had helped her husband, Jon, to feel at ease when he first met her extended family.

“She reached out to Jon,” added Marie. “She would always take the person who seemed to need her most.”

Kala’s love reached far beyond the family circle, to people she barely even knew, noted her mom.

“It didn’t matter if you knew her for her entire life, or if you had just met her, she made you smile. She would connect with people,” says Elizabeth “She just knew that she had to give as much joy as possible in that short period of time, and she did.”

It wasn’t until Kala’s death, in May 2008, that the family fully realized the number of people whose lives she had touched.

When Kala’s fragile heart finally gave out one night, the family was floored by how many came to the funeral to share in their grief and celebrate the life of their little girl. The church was packed with family and friends decked out in bright, cheerful clothing. The organ rang out the vibrant, upbeat music that Kala had always loved in the happy thought that the vibrations from the floor may still reach Kala’s lifeless body. 

Her death and her funeral were “a true testament to her life,” says Elizabeth, who likened Kala’s death to her birth.

“Her birth was beautiful. I was laughing through it, I got to hold her. We had at least 50 people in this tiny room awaiting her presence,” Elizabeth said. “And her death was so much the same, because, I know as odd as that sounds, so many people I think are afraid of death, and she was completely peaceful.”

She adds, “Had I ever said that I wanted to terminate my pregnancy I would never have had that opportunity to share with the world the joy and the love of that one life.”

Kala’s presence can still be felt, and family members say they know that she is a powerful intercessor in Heaven.  After discovering that she had lost a tooth the night of her death, they began praying to her to recover lost objects. “Within no time, we usually find whatever we lost,” says Vanessa Mosher, Kala’s godmother.

The family plans to establish a foundation in her memory called “Kala’s Hope,” which will raise funds to help children and their families through the anguish of long-term hospitalization.

The name of the foundation expresses the special gift that Kala left behind. 

“Anybody who knew her and knew the struggles that she went through got hope from it, because there is a child who is in so much pain,” Elizabeth says, “and yet she would smile and give you a hug and she would love you.”

 

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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