Between Tuesday and Saturday there were things to do.  Laura says, “Do you know or remember how much equipment is needed for one so small?  At the moment I said yes, I didn’t!  By the time it hit me, I had three days to get a car seat, stroller, diaper bag . . .  diapers, bottles, formula, pacifiers, clothes, bathtub, swing crib, Snuggli . . . the list goes on.  With no time to waste, we got busy and with the help of friends were fully equipped by the time we headed for the airport to pick up our little guest.

Changing Andrea's World

She was just a baby—a tiny, tiny baby--when her parents put her in the arms of an escort and waved goodbye as her plane took off for the United States.  Andrea Gil Torres  was three months old, and she weighed six pounds and eight ounces—
that’s all.

That was on a Saturday.  On the previous Tuesday, Laura Cassel had answered the phone at her home in Bloomfield Hills.  On the other end was Marge Badowski, an area coordinator for Healing the Children.  A baby was being flown in from El Salvador on Saturday, Marge said.  Her name was Andrea, she had been premature, and she needed emergency laser eye surgery to prevent otherwise certain blindness.  Would Laura, her husband Scott, and their three children be her host family?

Laura’s response was entirely natural:
She says, “All that was running through my
head was my son’s graduation from high
school in one month, my eldest daughter’s
brief homecoming before leaving for Paris,
the upcoming graduation party, and, on top
of all that, the fact that my entire family
would be descending on my home for the celebration, camping on my floors with mattresses and blankets.”

So of course her answer was “Yes, Marge, we would love to have this child.” 

At that moment little Andrea received an extraordinary gift.

Laura believes that she too received an immeasurable gift when she said yes to an impossible request.  “Eventually I saw that all I could do was quit relying on myself and start relying on God.  It was the only way to accomplish all that lay before me.  I also saw that some things are just more important than others.  A little girl’s sight was far more significant than the upcoming demands on my time and energy.”         

“Andrea was so small, so precious, so tiny, so beautiful, and so . . . fussy!

“It had been a long day of travel from El Salvador for her (as well as her escort).  She cried the whole way home in the car, and that was the first time the ‘rely on God’ message reached my brain.  At 4:00 am while she was still crying, I was still working with that message.  Finally, finally, she decided to settle down and get some sleep. 

"The next couple of days were all about survival.  Sleep when she sleeps, realize that showers are completely overrated, and eat only while holding her.

“The next Tuesday arrived, and we had our first appointment with Dr. Antonio Capone and Dr. Michael Trese, retinal specialists. They told us Andrea was a great candidate for surgery and scheduled the procedure for the next day, at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

“‘Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.’  We’re all familiar with those words, but try explaining them to a three-month-old who eats every three hours.  I thanked God for my eldest daughter, who took shifts with me that night so that we could survive surgery day.  When a nurse took Andrea from my arms at 10:30 the next morning my neck and arms ached from rocking her hungry tummy through the wee hours.

“I was asleep in the waiting room when Dr. Capone woke me up to tell me that Andrea’s procedure was over and that she was fine.  He explained to me that her right eye would be her better eye and that she will have what’s called ambulatory sight.  That meant that this sweet baby would be able to see her parents smile at her, see a sunset, see her own children.  I couldn’t stop weeping.

“We repeated the whole routine on Friday, for the other eye, and again all went well. 
At her follow-up appointment the doctors told us she could go home to El Salvador in a week.  How her parents must miss her!  We knew they did, because her father had called us frantically three or four times.  They couldn’t wait to have her home again.

“As for everything else?  It all got done.  My daughter’s brief homecoming turned into the ultimate bonding experience, my son graduated without a hitch, and Andrea was the star at his party.  What a celebration we had with all our family and friends!

“I’m so glad I said yes.”

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