A Bit of Our Story
My name is Marcy Valenzuela. My husband Robinson and I are in the process of adopting a little girl that has Downs Syndrome and a heart defect who lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. Our Story is unique, this little girl will be the 3rd child with Downs Syndrome that will come into our home. We’ve been through trial after trial, cancer, rays of sunshine, and now an unexpected experience and strong urgency to adopt Sofia.
Since day one when we felt this strong impression, we have been running. Now we’re searching for everything we can do. Things we can sell, checking out different loans, grants, etc. and we’re realizing we need a lot more help then we thought. Our immediate need is to secure our placement with Sofia and pay the agency’s fee of $8,000. We’re half way there with this goal. Then the fees line up one after the next. We are applying for as many grants as possible, however we’re finding that many of them don’t pay out until the very end when we’re about to travel. There is so much upfront money that we need and don’t have. We are required to travel twice to Eastern Europe. The first time for 7-10 days, the next trip for 21-23 days. The travel alone is around $1,500+ for one round trip ticket. We’re estimating the adoption total we need to raise will be around $45,000+. We’re an average middle class family. My husband just graduated with his Bachelors in 3D Animation, and currently works at a retail store. The business I owned as a pharmaceutical liaison I sold at the end of 2013. I wanted to be a mom and not a business owner whose operations were ran 100% by me. I sold it for 1/3 of what it was worth because I had only 1 offer come in and my daughter Ariana, who has downs syndrome, desperately needed a full time Mama. My husband is currently looking for better work in his field, in the meantime we are getting by with his income. We are able to live comfortably with our daughter Ariana, and will be able to raise Sofia with our income, we just don’t have the chunk of money up front to put forth for this adoption, all of our savings has been put toward Sofia. We’re in the plateau point of life where you can smell something is going to get better, but it’s not quite here yet. We know all things happen for a reason and know we need some serious help to be able to get Sofia home. We feel VERY strongly that pursuing Sofia is the most important thing for us to do right now. Daily we get confirmations that “This is right, just keep going.” We are Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. We have prayed numerous times to be guided to the right places, to the right persons who will best help Sofia. I am aching to bring this little girl away from war zones that are getting closer. We have been told that sometimes countries will close their adoption programs because of various reasons. One more reason we feel a great urgency. The wars in the part of the world are getting worse and worse. Please open your heart and help us pay for this adoption so we can bring Sofia home out of an orphanage to a Mama, Papa and Sister to walk through life’s journey with. Ariana and Sofia are days apart in age. Both Born near the end of 2012, and both have Downs Syndrome. We will quite literally be raising twins in almost every way, one of them was just born half way around the world. Sofia is worth every sacrifice required. Please help me bring home my baby. We are continually searching for miracles.
The following is our story.
My first son was born Dec 10th of 2008. What started out as a check up and non-stress test, ended up as an emergency c-section. Armando had inhaled muconium and was without oxygen for an extended period of time. He had to be resuscitated after he was delivered. The Dr’s worked on him for 2 hours then came to us with their findings. He has a heart condition called Transposition of the Great Vessels. (His heart was working in reverse.) He also appeared to have Downs Syndrome. (looking back at pictures, we KNOW he had Downs Syndrome) The Dr’s then asked us what we’d like to do. He needed heart surgery, was not able to breath on his own, and because he was oxygen deprived for a time, we were told “He might be a vegetable his whole life. He needs heart surgery, but if we life flight him to Primary Childrens Hospital, he’s likely to die on the operating table, so what would you like to do?” So we made one of the hardest decisions in our life. We did not want him to die alone, and we knew he was only living because of the machines that were attached to him. We decided to love him while we had him. The Dr’s took him off the machines, and he breathed! For 1 more hour, he breathed on his own. I was so proud of my sweet, strong little boy. He was beyond beautiful. All of our family was there and was able to hold him, then I took him back, laid him on my skin on my chest and comforted him as he took his last few breaths. I wouldn’t have wanted him to leave any other way then listening to my heart beat.
This all happened just after I had been laid off of my job as a pharmacy technician (The pharmacy owners thought it was a perfect time because I’d want to stay home to be a mom). My husband then unexpectedly lost his job as a computer game animator because his company was sinking quickly and stealing money out of employees 401K accounts. He still has never been paid for his last 3 months of work. The owner is serving time now. And then we had to bury our son. Our hearts were more then broken. Amazingly, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we were literally carried through our trial. Looking back I had a gimps of heaven, seeing Heavenly Father sit down with Armando before he came down and the Lord said to him, “I’m going to answer your parents prayers, but there’s a condition. You can only stay for a short time.” and my son replied back “ok” fully willing to accept what was about to happen. God is so good. I love my son beyond anything imaginable. Our church and community rallied around us, we were able to pay our bills, amazingly, and the windows of heaven pored out on us. I was able to start my own business, as I was taken under wing by one of the companies my pharmacy did shipping for. My husband got another job and started schooling for his Bachelors. Miracles happened daily. It was an amazing time, and we both grew so much. And despite the outcome of loosing our son, we were so blessed to have the short time we did with our sweet angel boy.
Following this time, I’ve had several miscarriages. My body was still in trauma from what had happened and I was not able to sustain any pregnancies, and I desperately wanted a child. My arms were empty and I had a great desire to fill them. Then I got pregnant. We scheduled an ultrasound at 19 weeks to know the baby’s gender… and there was no heart beat. He had passed away about 3 weeks prior and I didn’t know. That experience ended up being very therapeutic oddly enough, because I was able to naturally give birth. I knew what the outcome was going to be, I knew this baby was not alive, but I had never had the chance to give birth. I felt that it was stolen from me because of the emergency c-section that was forced on me. I gave birth! I did it UN-medicated, and it was amazing. That child was a gift, showing me that I can successfully give birth.
Then I got pregnant again. I waited each week, each month. Is this going to last? I’m still pregnant. Next month passes, Still pregnant. I never let myself get excited because I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. Looking back, I regret that, and have learned that regardless of what stage the pregnancy is, I need to be happy and excited and let that little person feel, through me, it’s first sensations of joy. I’M IN LABOR… and it hits me. I’m pregnant, I’m having a baby, I’m having a baby RIGHT NOW! It was like an out of body experience. I finally was able to give birth how I’ve always wanted. At home, in a birthing pool of warm water with my dear midwife friend Christine Miller. Listen to this, my water never broke. Ariana was born still in her water sack. (“Born in the caul”, or “Behind the Vale” is how it’s termed) As she’s lifted up and brought to my chest, I see her face, and to tell you the truth, it shocked me. She looked EXACTLY like Armando. Full head of dark hair, tiny ears. I didn’t know what to think. My head was spinning, as I held her, within an instant, I was in love with my little girl. We were in doubt that she, or Armando, had downs syndrome because… how can that happen twice? This is just our family look! They were both normal and perfect….. it took 2 months to consent to getting blood work done to see if she had the genetic markers of Downs Syndrome. When it was confirmed, it took us back a little, but we quickly tossed that uncomfortable feeling aside knowing that no matter what her diagnosis said, we are going to love her. Ariana has no heart issues, only an extra chromosome. She is the light of our lives.
Shortly after we get Ari’s diagnosis, I was introduced into the Downs Syndrome community in my area, making Face Book friends and hearing all of the stories from different parents about their children. One of the mothers mentioned that she found her child off of an advocacy group’s website called ReecesRainbow.com …. “What’s Reece’s Rainbow?” I thought to myself. It’s a website where children with disabilities of all kinds are gathered for families to find and adopt. Children that are HIV+, blind, have a lost limb, Downs Syndrome, you name it. Well, I got curious, so I looked at the kids in the Downs Syndrome group. Technically at this point, had Armando not passed away, I would have 2 children with Downs Syndrome. I looked through the boys, then I looked just for fun at the pictures of the girls, and there I found her. When I saw her for the first time, something within me stirred. I went to get my husband to take a look at her and asked what his thoughts were about adopting. “Well Marcy, you just had a baby, lets take care of her for right now, and in a few years we’ll look into adopting.” I chuckled and agreed, the timing wasn’t right. NOTE: Within this website, for identity protection, they give her a fake name. Our Agency stressed the importance that protecting these childrens identities is paramount and we were NOT to show pictures or give any information other then “girl with Downs Syndrome in Eastern Europe around the age of 2.” They are concerned that any information that is publicly spread will lead to human trafficking and at all cost these children are to be protected. I am telling you about this knowing you’ll probably look into the facts of our story. Her name listed on the website is different. We will be naming her Sofia Ava.
Our faith was tested again when my husband found out that he had Testicular Cancer. I knew what the path of cancer led to and I refused to let my husband go through chemo and radiation and kill our chances of having future children. So we studied, and I helped him completely change his diet, change his Ph and kill the cancer cells with good nutrition and lots of dedication. The health clinic we were going to was giving him injections of high doses of Vitamin C, and doing ultraviolet light blood treatments on him, along with several nutritional supplements. His body was finally healthy enough to sustain surgery to remove the cancer. He’s been cancer free ever sense his surgery. In post testing, his body remains cancer free and nothing ever spread. This miracle took place January 25, 2013 with the first diagnosis – June 24, 2013 when he had surgery.
Sofia never truly left my mind. Over the last 2 years I’ve gone back to the website 4-5 times to see if there was any new pictures or updates about her… Something about her gripped my heart had me captivated and I couldn’t toss this feeling.
The morning of July 29th, my husband wakes up and tells me that he just had the weirdest dream. “I had a dream I was playing with 2 little girls that looked a lot alike, almost as if they were twins and both had downs syndrome” … My mind raced to Sofia. I pulled up her picture and showed Robinson. “Is this the little girl you had a dream about?” he replied, “Wow, she looks a lot like Ari.” and it was left at that. The next day, my husband is driving to work. All of a sudden gets this overwhelming feeling come over him that almost audibly told him, “Adopting this little girl is the right thing to do.” He doesn’t tell me about this. In the meantime, she will not leave my mind. She’s already been haunting my thoughts for the last couple years, but now, it was stronger. She was on my mind and not leaving. “Adoption? Is now the right time?” were the thoughts running through my head. The next morning it was weighing so heavily on my mind that I go downstairs to talk to Robinson. I wanted to know his true thoughts and feelings about this little girl, about really adopting her. Just as I begin stammering my words out, I am overwhelmed with tears flooding my eyes. “I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to be crying, I don’t know where this is even coming from, I just wanted to know what your honest feelings were about adopting this little girl” Robinson smiles and simply says. “We just got our answer. We should adopt this little girl” He recognized what was happening to me. THEN he proceeds to tell me about his experience driving to work the previous day. The next thing that hits us both, spoke with great intensity to our minds saying, “You need to do this, and do it fast!” And so began our journey of miracles.
That day, we started running. calling Homestudy social workers, Adoption agencies, everything. Looking at our finances, seeing what we have, realizing what we’ll need. Then planning fund raisers, and putting a campaign on gofundme.com. (“Valenzuela’s adoption fund – the only problem with that is the website takes 8% of the funds that are raised.) We were able to get the Homestudy done and paid for, and get the placement agency’s contract mailed and $250 application fee sent. We’re searching for everything we can do, and we’re realizing we need a lot more help then we anticipated. Each country has it’s own requirements when it comes to adoptions. We are required to travel twice to the country. Our agency told us it would be best if we were together for moral support when delays or problems arise. As stated in the beginning, with travel expenses, lodging and food while in the country, we’re estimating that somehow, someway we’re got to raise over $45,000. That’s more then we make in a year. My husband and I are very hard workers and it is not often we ever ask for help, but this is not help we are asking for ourselves, this is help that will go directly and 100% to Sofia. The adoption system is broken. It’s a sad money game that countries take advantage of willing families that just want a child. Greed is what stands in the way of a sweet children who just wants to be loved, and a good family that desperately wants her home as a part of our family. I am aching to bring this little girl home, away from the war zones that are getting closer. We have been told that sometimes countries will close their adoption programs because of various reasons. One more reason we feel a great need to hurry. The wars surrounding that part of the world are getting worse. Please open your heart and help us pay for this adoption so we can bring Sofia home out of an orphanage to a Mama, Papa and Sister to walk through life’s journey with. Ariana and Sofia are days apart in age. Both born near the end of 2012 and both have Downs Syndrome. We will quite literally be raising twins in almost every way, one of them was just born half way around the world. She’s worth every sacrifice required. Our faith and prayers have led us to write this letter to you. Please, Please help me bring home my baby.
Deepest gratitude for helping our Angel Girl,
Marcy, Robinson and Ariana Valenzuela