The scariest part of all, though, was when the specialist came in and told us that there was also something not right with her heart, and that my mom would need to go to a pediatric cardiologist to see what was really wrong.A few weeks later, that appointment came, and we left the hospital with news we had hoped wouldn’t come…. Laura’s heart was broken, and she would need open heart surgery after birth.Time went by slowly as we awaited her birth. When the time came for her to be born, I was so scared. Everything on the internet told us all of the bad to expect. It told us that my baby sister might not make it to birth, and even if she did, there was a good chance she wouldn’t make it to her first birthday. The unknown was frightening. I didn’t know what to expect.Moments before Laura was born, a doctor took us aside to tell us that she would most likely be purple when she was born and that there was a good chance that she wouldn’t be crying. When she came out pink and crying, I knew from that moment that she was going to be okay. It wouldn’t be an easy journey, but she was going to make it.
Three months after she was born, Laura went through open heart surgery. How her little, 8 lb. body handled open heart surgery the way that it did still amazes me to this day. She had her surgery on Friday and was out of the hospital that following Sunday.
After her surgery, Laura started gaining weight and thriving.
4 days before my parents left to go meet Autumn for the first time, we got a phone call that we never expected….. Autumn’s biological parents got word that we were coming to adopt her, and they took her back home. Our hearts were completely shattered. What was going on? Why was this happening? Autumn was OURS! I remember just sitting on my bed, sobbing, because I didn’t have strength to do anything else. I felt like we had just lost everything that my whole family had been working so hard towards.The people from Autumn’s orphanage asked my parents not to give up, and they asked them to please choose another child to rescue. There had never been a child with Down syndrome adopted from that orphanage before so they wanted a child to be saved. My parents agreed and were emailed a small list of children who had Down syndrome that were available in that orphanage. And there she was…..A blue eyed, blonde haired beauty that we knew was meant to be ours.
My parents left on a plane headed for Russia where they finally got to meet the little girl they had been working so hard for…. Even though it wasn’t the little girl they thought it would be, they loved her instantly anyway.
My parents returned home, returned to Russia again to go to court (AND PASSED!), and then they returned home again and waited to leave for the final trip….. the Gotcha Day trip! Shortly after my parents returned home, we started hearing rumors of an adoption ban that Russia was trying to pass so that Americans could no longer adopt Russian orphans. We didn’t believe it. This could not be true.
But it was…. We spent Christmas not knowing if Kamydn would come home. We did not know if all hope of her coming to live in America with us was lost. We were in a fog. We rode a roller coaster of emotions as we kept getting mixed information. The ban would pass. No it wouldn’t. Maybe it would. If it passed, we still might be able to get Kami. If it passed, we wouldn’t be able to get Kami. Maybe if it does pass, kids with special needs would be an exception to the ban. We didn’t know what to believe. My mom, my brother, and myself packed our suitcases, prepared to leave, having faith that God would get us to Russia, and that He would get Kamdyn out that orphanage no matter what.
A few days before we were to leave, we got the green light to go. We didn’t know if we would come home with Kami, but we knew we had to try. By the Glory of God, we were able to take Kami out of the orphanage.
We arrived home safely in the US with Kamdyn, and her and Laura became best friends instantly.
Kami has been home for 26 months now, and she is blossoming. We all love her so much, and she fits into our family so well. Everyone thinks that her and Laura are twins, and they are always so amazed when we tell them that they aren’t biological sisters. I am so thankful for the gift of these two girls. They are smart and beautiful. They are strong and loving. They are precious creations of God. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They have both made me a better person.
Thank you so much to Kate for allowing me to share our story. March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day, and I love to spread awareness for my sisters so it is definitely one of my favorite days for sure (and it might help a little that March 21st is also my birthday) People with Down syndrome aren’t scary or weird….. They are just like us except a little cooler because they have one more chromosome than the rest of us. That’s all. So, next time you see someone with Down syndrome, don’t treat them as different…. Just treat them as a person because that is all that they are. Down syndrome does not define them. Oh, and if you ever get a chance to hug someone with Down syndrome, do it. It’ll be the best hug that you will ever receive 🙂
– Ashley, Laura and Kami’s big sister (Feel free to follow our journey on Instagram @becomingmrsdavila)
*For those who have asked – here is a little information on why Adoption is no longer allowed in Russia. Our family prays that Russians will chose adoption for their own families and also that Russian and US relations will improve so US families like this one can adopt in the future.