Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Day the Lights Came On

I have talked a little here and there about our journey to rescue Gavyn and Veronika from the orphanage, but I have not told you everything.
I feel it is very important to do that, not just for me, but for others who are in the process or considering adopting.
It all started back in October of last year when we saw Veronika (listed as Sydney on Reece's Rainbow). We already knew we wanted to adopt two little ones, but wanted them to be close in age. We found out another child was available with Veronika but this little girl, as precious as she is, was several years older. We did not feel comfortable putting a preschooler almost kindergartener in a room with an infant. We wanted them to have a connection and we did not feel like it would work out for us to bring home that little girl. We did a lot of praying, but in the end we decided that if another child was not listed before it was time for us to travel, we would go blind to adopt a second.
A month later, we saw Gavyn (listed as Lucien on Reece's Rainbow). After weeks of waiting we were told he was able to be adopted with Veronika, so we committed to him as well.
The next months were filled with paperwork and fundraising and we did not have time to think of much else. Of course we kept up with everyone's blog and while we knew that a lot of kids that were older and had been moved to an institution would have delays, we did not expect too many with us going for infant, after all, Gavyn was just 9 months old when we would be meeting him and Veronika was 11 months old.
We finally ended up with a travel date and in country, all the excitement was catching up to us as we explored the city and walked around trying to soak it all up. Because they were at different orphanages we could only see one child first and would have to come back later for another appointment for the second referral. We saw Veronika first, we figured she had waited longer and we did not want her to have to wait another second. I also think God had a LOT to do with that choice, but I will explain that in a little bit.
On June 11th we finally met Veronika.  We found Veronika in good health, and well taken care of. There were a few issues, but all minor. We had heard good things about Gavyn's orphanage so we expected to find him at the same level as we were seeing Veronika. While there were several delays (she could not sit up, she could not crawl or creep, and it seemed she had never been put on her tummy to play with toys) she was a bundle of energy and a pure delight.
After our second appointment we were finally able to meet Gavyn for the first time on June 20th.
The orphanage looked lovely with flowers growing everywhere and the director seemed very nice, it was all very promising. We were sure that Gavyn would be just as well cared for as our little Veronika. A nanny brought him in and handed him to me. The first thing I noticed was that he was SO floppy and he could not even hold his own head up. It was like holding a new born, only Gavyn was 9 months old. The second thing I noticed was that he was burning up with a fever. The third thing I noticed was a cough that was so powerful his whole body shook when he coughed.
I asked if he had a cold, and was given a puzzled look and was told no he was fine. I explained he was hot, and I was sure he had a fever, and his cough was horrible. The doctor was called in and he dismissed it all saying it was because he has down syndrome. Now... I might not have ever been on the Dean's List, but I AM smart enough to know that having Down syndrome does NOT mean you have a cough or a fever.
I only got to hold him for a few minutes before our facilitator demanded that he be examined and his needs met. We were taken to a small exam room where the looked him over for a few minutes. All the while I was trying to hold back the tears. This was certainly NOT what we were expecting for our first meeting.
The next day they let us visit him for 30 minutes. He no longer had a fever but he still had a cough. We tried to get him to look at us, engage us, smile at us, something, anything. But it was like his body was there, but there was no spirit, no life. HOW could this have happened in only 9 months???
We went back to our apartment, emotionally worn out, scared, worried, shell shocked. This was not what we expected. We wondered if he would ever find his way back. If he would ever look at us, if he would ever be able to function. If he would ever find his way out of himself, we feared he had buried himself so deeply inside himself that we might never reach him.
Every day we looked for some sign of hope, some life in him, some light. Gavyn would not look at us, but would wave his hands all over, staring at them, and as he did, he would retreat more and more into himself. We prayed so hard every day. It was so hard to go from seeing Veronika all bouncy and smiley at us, to seeing Gavyn so unresponsive.
This is where I will explain why we are actually glad we met Veronika first. We had no idea going in that WE would have to choose who to see first. We thought we would just be told who we would see first. But we were told to "choose". How can a person choose? So quickly, we said a prayer and asked God to help us make the right choose. We ended up going to see Veronika first. Because of her care at her orphanage, while we missed her like crazy for the days we did not see her, we knew she was in good hands. If we had seen Gavyn first, there would have been NO WAY I could have left him knowing the care, or lack thereof, he was getting. So we really feel like God pointed us towards Veronika first because he knew I would not have been able to leave him even for a day once we saw him. He needed our love and our care more than anything, even if he didn't want it or know it yet.
Either way, we knew we were bring them BOTH home.
Mark left after court and I stayed the rest of the time, bringing Veornika and Gavyn home by myself on July 19th.
Since then Gavyn has been making some strides, he is more responsive, he is more engaging. He desires to be around people, he loves to eat solids, he is able to hold his head up, sit up on his own, and then today.....
The Lights Came On!!
It is like a whole new child woke up in Gavyn's bed today. Veronika has been army crawling for a couple of months now but ever since Gavyn learned how to sit up a few weeks ago that is ALL he wants to do, sit. And if he does not have a toy or it is out of reach, he would sit there and watch his hands twirl around. Every single time he would play with his hands he would seem to revert back to not really "being there". But today... today when I went to get Veronika and Gavyn out of bed, he had pulled up and was on his knees peaking over the side of the crib and he smiled at me, when he noticed I was coming over, he laughed with joy! My heart felt like it was going to burst I was so happy. But it did not end there! Nope, we put him on the blanket (a twin sized comforter) on the living room floor, with toys scattered around the edges, praying that today will be the day he tries to get a toy. His favorite toy was on the other side of the blanket and for the first time ever...


But the Good day did not stop there!!
Gavyn managed to get himself over to ANOTHER toy and even pulled himself up into a kneel to play with it! But that is not all! Nope that is not all! Since being home, Gavyn and Veronika have noticed each other, but never played with each other. They have shared toys, and have played with toys at the same time, but never really actively played with each other for any length of time...

Today, they looked at each other,

babbled at each other...
and even grabbed for each other.

Not only that... but for the first time ever, Gavyn splashed in the tub!!! Before, he would sit and play with toys he could reach, or that floated by, but today he reached out for the toys that were not very close and he splashed!!

What a glorious day!!! So, I guess my main purpose of this post, was to celebrate how far he has come! And to also share the fears I had.  You see....
 A little boy, who had given up. A little boy who lacked the desire to try anymore. A little boy who's future was uncertain...
 A little boy, bubbling with life and personality. A little boy, ready to take the world in his hands, and who's future is his for the taking!

Every day, we are awed and amazed by Veronika and Gavyn. They have come so far in so short of a time. And we are blessed to be their parents!


  1. Precious precious. Thank you for sharing!!! That post made my day!

  2. He is so cute and it's amazing how quickly he improved. You must be doing something right!

  3. A beautiful story. Praise be to God!