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We set out for an older toddler boy. Boys often are forgotten, many people thinking girls are easier. With two birth-daughters we knew that this wasn’t true. The thought of a forgotten or neglected boy needing a stable, loving family drew us to our decision.
Manuel is a total teddy bear, charming, smart and loving. He came home to us at age 5 with scars, parasites, and tuberculosis. He had size 4 clothing even though he was 5 years old. Despite this he still had a bright smile and a loving lasting hug that everyone enjoyed, this was the start on our adventure into older toddler adoption.
Our road trip into parenting Manuel began wit stabilizing his health. Reports from Guatemala showed Manuel needing food, he was behind developmentally; he was clumsy, and his verbal skills needed some help. Once home it was the quest to encourage eating when hungry and getting used to food at regular times. Treating his ailments fell into the mix with pre-school to work on manners. Manuel had an instinct to leave us when he pleased, in crowds or our front yard. Sad to ween this independence, we taught him its best to be with Mommy and Daddy and that with us there’s always food and love and no need to ask for it from others.
Manuel suffered constantly with flu and colds that had me worried that he’d never actually attend a full month at school! Our physician came to explain that Manuel needed time to build up his immunity. That malnutrition is not overcome with just eating but our endeavor would take several years because malnutrition is at the cellular level and we had a long way to go to build up our sons system.
After being home for two years did we realize his vision was poor, another possible effect of malnutrition? Manuelito had double vision and was legally blind but we hadn’t realized it. It was hard not to feel guilty, our eye doctor reassured us that many families don’t realize their kids have a vision problem until there is a problem in learning at school. Manuel is now in cool Spiderman spectacles with the double vision corrected he’s on his way to correctable vision.
None of these setback’s have been easy but somehow we find our way to brush ourselves off and continue on loving and caring for our son and try not to be bitter about these struggles.
With all that I have learned about malnutrition my thoughts wander back to Guatemala and all of the children who won’t receive the love and care that they deserve. I think what if Manuel was still there, would he be begging on the street? Would he be alive? It hasn’t been easy with Manuel, I won’t sugar coat adoption or parenting. Bringing Manuel home has taught me more about the human condition that I could ever know by any other fashion. Whether he knows it or not he’s made my heart grow wider and stronger, he’s made me a more accepting person, and to Manuel I am forever grateful to have him be my son.
This was The Answer for Manuel, Be The Answer for another child by visiting the Guatemala900 website and signing up to receive updates on the children waiting in Guatemala and what you can do to help.