Meeting Malachi was one of the most emotional weeks of my life. My heart was a mess and after saying goodbye to him on Feb 10th I had to just push every feeling into a little box in my heart and mind, in order to push through the rest of our trip. I’m home now and starting to process my week with Malachi. My heart hurts and to be honest I just wanna leave what I seen and heard in this little box, it would be easier but it’s not fair to Malachi and it’s not fair to every other waiting child in his position.
My sweet son is perfect in every way, you can see his old soul in his dark brown eyes and he has the most luscious head of hair. He is Unafraid to show emotion and loved me so freely. Malachi’s name means Warrior and it’s so fitting because he is a fighter. Everyday he fights to not only stay alive but to grow and learn in an orphanage that has written him off, an orphanage that is waiting for him to die.
At 2 years old they transferred Malachi to the notorious 6th floor of the sprawling institution he calls home. This floor is where the children go to die. The children that the doctors see no hope or worth in, the unloved, the uncared for, the unwanted. How a person can put those labels on a child or any human being is beyond my understanding but for them it was easy. They looked at my son with his big heart, soulful eyes and wild hair and decided no one would ever want or love him and his life isn’t worth living. Why?.. Because he has special needs. The doctors have defined his right to live by a list of diagnoses.
Malachi has down syndrome, the same extra chromosome that Emmy has and that we love and celebrate. He is more medically complex though, in addition to his extra chromosome he also has a rare brain cyst, most commonly caused by having a stroke in utero. This cyst has caused him to have hydrocephalous and a seizure disorder. He has bronchial asthma, hypothyroidism and strabismus/nystagmus. This list may seem like a lot to most people, it may sound scary or overwhelming and to his orphanage it’s enough to write a little boy off, but let me explain what it really means.
Down syndrome means he has adorable almond shaped eyes and a button nose, it means he learns slower and will take longer to meet developmental milestones but It also gives him parts of his sweet personality. His ability to love and connect with his mama and the world, even after enduring 3 years of abuse and neglect, 3 years of little interaction or love. It gives him his fight.
His brain cyst means he will have to work harder to walk and talk. It means the left side of his body is weaker then his right and he will require support and therapy to build up his muscle strength. It also gives him a cool story for the playground and his college essay.
His seizure disorder is a bit more complicated and it’s unknown how it will effect him growing up, currently he takes a daily med and has been seizure free for over a year, so at this time it’s well controlled and not affecting his life. His hydrocephalous is also stable and doesn’t require treatment, his head is an appropriate size for his age.
His Asthma is asthma. He has inhalers and probably won’t be a marathon runner but it’s just asthma. 1 in 12 people have it!
Strabismus and nystagmus means he will likely wear adorable glasses!
Malachi’s special needs make him unique, but they don’t define him. He does not have a terminal illness, his future is bright and he will live a long healthy life. He has the ability to love, to learn and to live. His life has worth and he is loved and wanted.
Malachi’s biggest special need is the neglect and abuse he has endured, the scars are written all over his body. He is almost three years old and is fed 4-5 ounces of baby formula thickened with flour 5 times a day. That’s the same amount newborns are fed. His skin is pale and translucent, his hair is corse and he has no fat on his body. The fact that he is alive and that he is as tall as he is, is a testament to his fight and his body’s will to live. Malnutrition and systematic starvation such as this are all typical in dying rooms like Malachi’s. When your body is starved it stops growing, it doesn’t have the energy to fight sickness and infection, it diminishes the child’s fight and will, keeping them small, quiet and sleeping most of the day in their cribs.
He spends 22 hours a day alone in his crib with no love or interaction. He only recently started rolling over and still has no head control. A small glimmer of light is his baba. A year ago he was chosen for the Grandmother program, 2 hours a day for the last year he has had a baba spend 1 on 1 time with him. She takes him for walks and tells him stories. This is the only interaction or break from his crib he receives but I’m so thankful for it. He has bonded with her and that is huge. He still can’t handle being held for long periods of time though, loving touch is foreign to him.
The staff constantly questioned why I would want to adopt Malachi. They truly did not understand how anyone could love or want him. Knowing my son has lived in that environment for 3 years and will have to for another few months while his adoption is finalized breaks almost everything in my soul.
I pray they see the child that I see. The boy who loves to sing songs and have you do the actions with his hands. Who loves having his hair played with and his back rubbed. The child who wants to interact with other children and lights up watching them run and play. I pray they realize he does understand what they say, that he does strive to interact and connect and that he can differentiate between caregivers. I pray they slow down and see his heart and acknowledge his emotions. I pray they see even just ounce of his worth. Most of all though, I pray they don’t kill him. It’s a terrifying thing to pray as his mother but it’s his reality. He just needs to hold on and fight for a few more months.
I knew there was a reason God called me adopt so soon after bringing Emmy home, the urgency he placed on my heart a year ago was unexplainable. I wasn’t ready, I didn’t wanna walk this journey again so soon but I am so glad I listened and said yes. He had broken my heart for a little boy in Bulgaria before Emmy was even home, I didn’t know it but he had long planned for him to be my son. For many reasons Emmy had to be adopted first but God called me right back. Holding Malachi in my arms and hearing his story made Gods urgency all make sense. In 2014 two babies were born in the same hospital in a country 9000km away, God chose me to be their mom and I can’t think of a greater honor or privilege in this life. My arms are full but my heart is bursting, Emmy and Malachi you are loved, you are wanted, your lives have worth, you have a purpose in this world and will do amazing things. It wont always be easy but it will always be worth it.