I've talked about Denzel before. He is on my mind so often. He was in the same room as Evan when we were there. Out of the 9 children and adults, he was one of the most alert and responsive. He was always watching what we were doing and chuckling at the antics of darling Sasha (who is sadly 21 and too old to be adopted although he is the size of a toddler). Denzel's birthday was in January 2001, so he only has one year left to find a family before he is stuck in a laying down room forever. He has a single year before he ages out. He has been moved to a different facility where he has started to deteriorate.
This photo is from Denzel's profile at Reece's Rainbow. http://reecesrainbow.org/65205/denzel
Denzel has gotten thinner and paler since this photo was taken.
Since he was swaddled so often it was hard to get an idea of how much use he did have of his hands. It was clear he could get them up to his face and his mouth, and he had the dexterity to remove the tube. His legs were very thin and seemed very tight. I've been told he has a shunt but I don't have any additional information about that.
So these are all facts. Facts are great. More facts help families make better decisions about which kids they are or aren't able to provide for, always keeping in mind that so much will remain unknown. Let's talk about feelings now.
This is during one of our visits to his orphanage. You can see how his hands are kept away from his NG tube and also that he is so interested in his surroundings.
How does it feel to parent an older child who has spent an entire lifetime confined to a crib? How does it feel to hear hope from one doctor and resignation from another? How does it feel to see unbelievably progress and frustrating regression, sometimes on the same day? It has brought the most breathtaking joy to our family that I can imagine. Let me say that again. Even the hardest days with Evan are filled with more joy than I can describe. As much as my faith in humanity has been destroyed by seeing the way he was left wasting away in a crib for so many years, that same faith is being restored by seeing how he grows and heals every day. We are hitting new milestones. Regression is happening less often. (Medical appointments are still tough sometimes.) He has grown so much!
He is not the same child my husband saw on his first visit. When my husband first met him, one of the staff picked Evan up and put him in my husband's arms. Evan cried. He cried in terrified, heart-wrenching screams of agony. They told my husband he was always in pain. Nothing would help him and he would never get better and we should pick a healthier child from the group our other boys were in. Obviously my husband stuck it out, and kept visiting Evan, and accepted the referral. We brought him home. Now he loves to be held. With the exception of medical appointments, he no longer cries. He plays with toys, and laughs, and babbles back and forth with us. Even when things have not been easy, they are rewarding and meaningful.
This is from one of Evan's first visits. He was so scared. He did not want to interact at all. Denzel is much more open and interested in his surroundings than Evan was at the orphanage.
It is hard to imagine how many ways you will find joy. A year ago I found joy in these things. Letting me slip a spoonful of food in before we started our bottle was a huge step I was so thankful for! A smile and laugh when I playfully interrupted his stimming by holding his hand and moving it faster or slower, a chance to let him look outside and me inside during those times he hid in stimming. Obvious excitement when he knew from the familiar sounds of our routine that his food was coming. Becoming more comfortable with our family trips to the library or park or church. My heart melted the first time Evan rolled himself onto his sister's lap to snuggle when she was sitting on the floor near him. These days seeing Evan eat all of his meals from a spoon, relax on the couch, just smile and be happy within our family, these things make me smile all the time. More than a year in a family, a year filled with small miracles and progress, have changed Evan so much.
I was so thrilled the first time Evan grasped something we put in his hands. Every small thing is worth celebrating.
Would Denzel's journey look like ours? I don't know. I'm sure it would look different in a lot of ways, just like our journey for our other boys is different than Evan's. I think it would be just as joyful. I have talked to a lot of other moms who have adopted kids from bad places, from laying down rooms. (Autocorrect tried to make that tombs. Appropriate...) I have seen many moms talk about how it is hard work. But I have never seen moms who didn't say how thankful they were to have their child safe in their arms. Denzel needs a mama and papa to love him and fight for him and take a chance on him.
After Angel Tree, Denzel's grant account stands at $2018.90. You can donate to his grant or view his Reece's Rainbow profile at http://reecesrainbow.org/65205/denzel .