**For those people reading this who have not immunized their children against the MEASLES and are against IMMUNIZATION FOR THE MEASLES, re-read the last paragraph of this page over and over. You need to hear this. You need to think about what happened to our Emmalee and what could happen to your un-immunized child**
We are Emmalee’s Mom and Dad – A Forever Family Created By Love And Adoption
We Are Two Broken Hearted Parents Missing Their “Missing Piece”. Emmalee loved that book.
When we say those words, ” We’re Emmalee’s parents”, people start looking around for Emmy. They don’t see her. They look confused. We explain what has happened. Then they look shocked and sad and don’t know what to say. We tell them the whole story of our short but eventful life with Emmalee Madeline Snehal Parker. She was born 12/7/2005. She died January 2, 2011. From the lack of a timely measles vaccine.
Emmalee Madeline Snehal Parker. Is that a great name? “We” worked so hard to develop a name that would be a reminder of our loved ones who have passed away and a name that she could be proud of.
“We” are Emmy’s father, Dr. Brian Parker and Emmy’s mom, Erica Finkelstein-Parker. We adopted Emmalee from an orphanage in Pune, India in July 2005. I am Emmy’s Mom. I am an only child. My mom, Emmalee’s maternal Grandmother, Dorothy Finkelstein, is an only child. My husband Brian is an only child. Small family.
We have been married since 1994. We couldn’t have a biological child. As they say in the adoption realm, Emmalee was born in our hearts not in my tummy. We had a second religious wedding ceremony once Emmy was part of our family. She could tell her friends that she was at her Mommy and Daddy’s wedding. Then, we had to explain.
July 9th was Happy Adoption Day, the day we met Emmalee, then Snehal, and became a family. July 11th was Happy Arrival Day! The day we returned to BWI airport in Baltimore with our little princess. She had learned one word. “Bye.” She told everyone in BWI, “Bye” as they went by. She was so cute in her t-shirt several sizes too big. When we learned she would be 2 1/2 when we would be able to bring her home, we bought clothing for a two year old. Unfortunately, Emmy only weighed 17 1/2 pounds. She was tiny. A very small body with a lot of spirit, or in Hebrew, Ruach. A strong wind. That’s Emmalee.
Emmy’s paternal Grandmother was named Irma and her maiden name was Lee. Her paternal Grandfather was Elbert. Hence, Emmalee. Her paternal Great Grandmother was Maddie. Emmalee Madeline. A name created with love and full of love and memories. Snehal was Emmalee’s Indian name. We were told it means love or friendly. Either fit Emmy. Snehal became her middle name. I used to tease Emmy that when she went to school and had to learn to spell her name she would hate Mommy. That’s me. She just called me Mommy. Emmy, as she called herself when she was really little, was full of love and friendly to everyone. She never met a stranger. As Emmy took off into a playgound full of children she had never seen, she screamed with a big smile, “Friends!” She invited herself to be part of their games.
Emmalee never missed a day of school sick. She was very lucky. Just colds. Lots of dings and dents. She had two speeds. Faster and I’m O.K.! We only saw the pediatrician for needed immunizations and well-child check ups unless we were having behavioral issues to discuss. Many of those. You see, Emmalee appeared medically healthy, but there were signs of problems. Learning problems. Behavioral issues. A shake in her right hand.We had Emmalee in several private schools until we enrolled her in the local public school system in Littlestown. They were fantastic with Emmy. We bumped along. Psychologists. Occupational therapists. The school system did everything they could for her. Meetings. Phone calls from a loving principal who cared deeply for Emmy came every day. I memorized his number. He started his conversation with, “Hey! Mrs. Parker, We’re having a great afternoon!” I always tried to get him to talk about the morning. No way. He always focused on the positive. He took care of Emmy like she was one of his own. Every day. Without fail. I found out when Emmy was sick that he had invited Emmy into his office when she “fake” coughed because she knew he kept cough drops in his desk. She wasn’t sick. He knew that. She just liked the flavor and Mommy was afraid they were a choking hazard. He cried when he came to visit Emmalee when she was in a coma.
We did everything any other family does. Vacations. Fun trips. Walks in the park. Brian and Emmalee flew a kite together. She loved that. Mommy didn’t fly the kite. Too frustrating when the string tangled. Daddy handled it better. Emmalee loved it. “Let’s go fly a kite.” Her favorite song. Her favorite show? Mary Poppins. Of course.
August 7, 2010. Everything changed in our lives forever. Our “healthy”, beautiful, always moving princess started tripping, falling. The next day, her head sank down as she ate. She slumped out of her chair when she ate. She didn’t notice it. Monday we flew into the pediatrian, the pediatric neurologist and a local E.R.
That night, we sent e-mails to everyone we knew. Pray for us, please! Emmalee is sick. We don’t know what is wrong. She’s having trouble walking. Do you know anyone? Can you help us? We need to have her tested in a hospital that will sedate a child. That turned out to be a specialty. There isn’t an opening for three weeks. What do I do? Emmalee can’t get off of the toilet now. We are terrified!
The next morning, the phone call we needed came. My cousin, Dr. Flaura Winston called. She is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She asked what was happening. We told her. She said pack a bag and come straight to the hospital. She would get a team ready. We did. And she did. They were expecting Emmalee when we arrived at the E.R.
Seven horrible days and MANY medical tests later, a rock shattered the window of our lives forever. A diagnosis which felt like a piano was dropped on our heads. S.S.P.E. Subacute Sclerosing Pan Encephalitis. A complication of the measles that Emmalee had in the orphanage in India BEFORE they immunized the children. Not just a complication. A FATAL COMPLICATION. No good treatment – no cure. None of the doctors had dealt with it.
In five short months, Emmalee was gone and we were devastated beyond what can be written. We reached out all over the world during that time and tried all treatment suggested. Five months. That’s all Emmy got after diagnosis. We lost the battle. We lost our life. Our Emmy-Bemmy.
?? Haven’t immunized your child?? Read this paragraph over and over!!
We lost our Emmalee. Three a.m. Sunday January 2, 2011. Somehow, Emmalee had made it to another year. We had just brought her home from her last trip to the hospital on December 7th. Her eighth birthday. Her last trip home in our van. In a coma. She had been in a coma for two weeks. She was in a coma for three more weeks before she left us.
Before that, she lost her memory and all of her skills. She didn’t recognize us. Her own parents. She didn’t recognize her house. She screamed for no reason. She couldn’t do anything that she could do months before. She looked empty. While in the hospital, she suffered horrible seizures and then lost consciousness. We lost our Emmalee before we lost her for the last time. She had to have tube feedings and constant nurses. Strangers helping me bath my baby. Strangers telling us what was happening and what would happen.
At home, our days were full of medicine delivered everyday from the pharmacy. Not to help her disease. To keep her body comfortable as she slipped away from us.Hospice nurses day and night. HOSPICE – HOSPICE. Read those words again. HOSPICE for an 8 year old girl. A beautiful, bright, always moving child. All because she was not given a timely measles vaccine in India. Too late – too little. The measles virus had already ravaged her brain and body. We were in shock. Each day, was another day in HELL.
January 2, 2011 didn’t end our HELL. It just changed it. The seizures had worsened as the ENCEPHALITIS destroyed Emmy’s brain. We were told not to move her, the brain would worsen the seizures. Each day was another day closer to being a family of two, not three. Then our last Friday night as a family. Known as the Shabbos, the Jewish Sabbath starts on Friday night. I heard myself tell my best friend on the phone, who then lived in Flordia, that we were about to have our last Shabbos as a family. We knew the time was near to lose Emmalee. Words that should never be spoken by a parent. We are a forever family. Forever Emmalee Madeline Snehal Parker’s parents.