Valentina’s Happily Ever After
Valentina, whose story has captured so many of our hearts, has started a new chapter with her forever family. This week, after spending the day with Valentina, her new family made it official. I know that many of us who have adopted have similar “first family photos” that look something like this:
Valentina, named because she came to our team’s attention on Valentine’s Day 2012, came to us with a diagnosis of Failure-to-Thrive. Her orphanage didn’t know how to help her get stronger, and at nine months old, she weighed 3.5 kg. (7.7 lbs.). Not only was she tiny, she was very weak and she didn’t have the strength to move around in her crib.
The nannies at LWB’s True Children’s Healing Home (TCHH) knew just what to do for her! In her first month at TCHH, she gained more than 2.2 kg. (1 lb.). She was becoming a beautifully round baby, even if she wasn’t ready to smile for us.
Each week, I couldn’t wait to open her weekly report to see how she was doing, and she never disappointed me. She grew by leaps and bounds. By June, just three months later, she had doubled her weight to more than 30 kg. (14 lbs.).
As she grew, we were delighted to read that she really liked to roll around TCHH and resisted all effort of the nannies to get her to crawl. She had gained a lot of weight, but now needed strength. Once again, TCHH nannies to the rescue. They put on an exercise program to help strengthen her muscles. Soon she was able to crawl, but she still preferred to roll. She also was master of the walking chair. And let’s just say that no toy was safe with Valentina around; she became known as the “toy snatcher.” We were cheering her on.
After several months in our care, we received the difficult news that Valentina’s adoption paperwork could not be submitted because the identity of her birthmother was known. Even though Valentina had officially been abandoned and her birthparents had fled her hometown, this meant her file could not be submitted. We were all so sad to think that Valentina was facing the possibility of growing up in an institution. So many people stormed heaven on her behalf and prayed that people in power would see fit to change her fate. At the same time, TCHH regularly sent updates of Valentina back to her home orphanage.
Little did we know, those updates were being read by someone back in her home city – a family who was falling in love with her more and more with every update. A Chinese family who was hoping to have a daughter of their own through adoption.
The storm clouds cleared and the heavens smiled upon this sweet little girl. She was approved for domestic adoption. As soon as the approval came through, this family wanted to meet Valentina IMMEDIATELY. They were told it would be about a month before Valentina could return to her home province to meet them. No way. Not good enough. The family quickly secured train tickets immediately and were on their way to Fujian Province to meet baby Valentina at our healing home.
And now you know the rest of the story….
Farewell, Valentina. We all wish for you a beautiful life in the arms of your forever family. We hope that your story of triumph will be retold a hundred times and that orphanages come to know not to give up and to ask for help. And when they do, we will be there.
~Elena Doyle, Associate Coordinator of LWB’s True Children’s Healing Home