It’s been two years this week since we met Nic for the first time. Here is the video that we made of our adoption journey when we arrived home for everyone who had supported us along the way. We still thank the Lord for every single person that played a role through their prayers, generosity and support. They were just as important to bringing Nic home as we were.
After I finished Colt’s birth story last month several of you asked if I would share Nic’s adoption story. So, over the next series of posts I will share Nic’s story. Many of you have read large portions of this, but I will also cover details that I haven’t shared before for those who are looking into adoption.
While every country and every adoption is different, and the process is always changing, I hope this gives you a little insight.
I don’t share our story here because I think that we are in any way "a special family so we did a special thing".
Our family is no different than anyone else's in the sense that we are all sinners. We all lose our patience, worry, get hurt, among other things. The only reason we can do anything is because we know that we serve a Great, all powerful, Almighty, All-knowing, Sovereign God who is with us through everything.
Still even knowing that we sadly can become like the panicked disciples on the boat in the storm or Peter on the water sinking in a moment of weak, sinful, faithless, fear.
I am ashamed to admit that there are over 163 million orphans in the world today and, except for some pity or shedding a few tears at a story every now and again, our family had never considered doing anything about this until after Colt was born.
The Bible is clear that the task of caring for these little ones belong to followers of Christ. We were not even praying for these orphans. The question we asked should not have been whether to be involved in the ministry of orphan care, but HOW, and yet we did not grasp this until God gave us a precious baby who happened to have an extra chromosome.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
*This picture was taken while we were waiting for our flight home from Ukraine (6 week's after we first met Nic)i. He was already smiling for us.*
We committed to adopt in July 2016 and on Thanksgiving day 2016 we received the phone call that we would be flying to Ukraine for an appointment with the Ukraine government in 5 days.
We arrived in Ukraine with zero sleep but running on adrenaline.
At this point the only thing that we knew about Nic was still, “Born 2016, Down syndrome” and our excitement to hold him, show him love and learn about our boy could not get any higher.
We had our interview at the department of adoption where we received our referral and also learned a few things about Nic that I had been so anxious to know.
We learned that he was 11 month old and his birthdate was January 22.
He had been left at the hospital at birth when his parents found out that he had Down syndrome.
We were then told that we would be allowed to meet Nic for the first time in his orphanage the next day.
We would be his very first visitors.
The emotions that we felt as we drove up to the orphanage are hard to put into words...
Overwhelming excitement that the moment we had dreamed of had finally arrived, but probably more comparable to the jumping out of an airplane, wide eyed, knot of fear, kind of excitement.
We had been told by others that babies in the orphanage spend a majority of the day in their cribs staring at the ceiling, sedation is used in some orphanages and that even in the “good orphanages” the trauma of neglect or lack of love and attention can have a devastating toll.
We had no idea what to expect but had already decided that whatever Nic was like, whatever health issues he might have, whatever trauma he might have experienced, he was our son.
We nervously talked with the orphanage director through our facilitator and then were led down a dark, eerily quiet hallway to the brightly painted visitation room where we took a seat on the couch next to oversized, stuffed monkeys and pink elephants.
My heart felt like it could have beat out of my chest while waiting to meet Nic.
On January 12, 2017 we walked out the doors of that orphanage where Nic spent almost the first year of his life. Not a single person was there to say goodbye, but he arrived home to be greeted with the hugs, kisses and love of cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings!
We celebrated his 1st birthday one week later. The first year of his life was spent alone in an orphanage crib, but he celebrated his 1st birthday surrounded by a mom, dad and six siblings! What a beautiful day!
All six of his siblings, including Colt, were in love with him immediately. They have all learned more about God's love and faithfulness and giving of ourselves for others through this process than any lesson book could ever teach them.
Day by day Nic’s smiles and giggles started coming easier .
He learned to cry because someone loved him and would answer his cries. One of the most eerie aspects of the orphanage is the silence. Rooms full of children but hallways so silent you could hear a pin drop as children have learned that their cries will not be comforted. .
His head shaking completely stopped within weeks of being home.
One of the hardest parts was his trauma in regards to food. He would not stop eating when he was fed and became upset EVERY time the food was pulled away. His blood tests showed malnourishment when we arrived home and we knew that this would take time and healing. Today he has minimal food issues, but they are still lingering and we remain aware and sensitive to this trauma.
. We know that there might always be scars that we will be sensitive to, but by God’s grace, 19 Months later, Nic has been transformed by unconditional love.
What a beautiful picture we have been given of our adoption into God’s family. Chosen while we were still sinners, broken, hurting, with nothing to offer...Ransom paid by the precious blood of Christ...Made a child of God’s and transformed by His love. The scars of our old self might remain in this life, but we are forgiven and made new by our Father who loves us and hears our cries and nothing we can do will ever separate us from that love.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are...
1 John 3:1
The question that I have received the most on Nic’s adoption story is “How did Nic transition into our family and how did he develop?”
While this could be a series all on its own, I’ll try to summarize a little.
I don’t think I could possibly fathom how brave and resilient our boy is, calmly adjusting to life in a boisterous family of 9.
I wanted him to sleep on me in the beginning in hopes of attachment, but he craved the silence of his crib. Often when we would hold him he would want to be put down and just lay on his belly sucking his fingers by himself. I hated this, because I wanted him to feel our love but I knew he needed it. He still will occasionally do this but now loves cuddling too.
He would have laid awake in his crib for hours if we didn’t check on him.
He never cried. Probably 1 month after being home, in the middle of the night, he cried for me. As I rubbed his back he became quiet and as I slowly got up to leave his bed he started to cry again. I returned and rubbed his back until he was quiet. The cycle continued and I was never so happy to be up in the middle of the night with a crying baby.
He now “yells” or makes noises for us when he awakes and I’m waiting for the day he will yell “mama”!
Food was difficult. He could only eat puréed food for the first 8 Months of being home and finally at 20 Months old we were able to slowly start incorporating solid food. He did not know how to stop eating and could eat 3 days worth of food and then throw it up, but became very upset when it was pulled away. This just took time, measuring and understanding. He’s doing so well now.
His eye contact, muscle tone and development improved quickly. After 3 months of being home he went from just holding his head up to sitting up for the first time. Clip of his first time sitting up:
[wpvideo 5eJLzpbS ]
From there he has continued to hit milestones. He is still nonverbal but has begun to learn sign language.
His smile, laughter, and love is the biggest change and that has just come one day at a time until we look back and realize that we don’t even recognize what he used to be.
**Picture is from Nic's first summer with us.