Parenting is a tough job, one of extreme responsibility and emotional effort. Even though parents strive to ensure their children are healthy and safe, life is unpredictable and it can be challenging when faced with unexpected health issues.
How a parent reacts to that challenge, though, is what sets them apart as people. While some (hopefully most) parents are willing to do anything to help their child remain as healthy as possible, some apparently don't feel the same way.
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All That Could Come
When you sign up to be a parent (in a metaphorical sense, of course), you're signing yourself up for all the potential problems that could come with it. Any health issues could arise during or after pregnancy, and unexpected events and tragedies can occur at any point in a child's life or your own life. To agree to take on parenthood is agreeing to take on whatever difficulties may come.
Even then, some parents choose the other route, running away from the struggles and leaving their child behind because of it.
At a hospital in Ukraine, a little boy named Dima was born, causing immediate concern in his parents when they saw what he looked like.
Doctors informed them that Dima had hydrocephalus, a condition that would cause his head to swell to above-average proportions due to fluid buildup in the brain's ventricles.
His parents decided they didn't want to deal with the complications that could arise as a result, so they left the hospital without him, abandoning him there.
A Temporary Home
At first, the doctors and nurses watched over him, making sure he was stable and healthy beyond his hydrocephalus so he could be brought elsewhere. When he was cleared, the hospital contacted an orphanage in Kramatorsk that would come to collect him and care for him over the next few years.
Though he was healthy otherwise, Dima's hydrocephalus still caused him many struggles. By four years old, he still could not walk, talk, or eat by himself, all as a result of the pressure put on his brain by the built-up fluid. He was completely dependent on the orphanage staff.
Dima survived quite a lot of strife, including a period of time where the orphanage had little in the way of supplies as they were relocating due to conflict. The staff truly believed he wasn't going to make it through the move, even calling a priest to pray for him, but he stuck it out, remaining alive and well throughout their perilous journey.
It was around then that Dima's story was first beginning to make waves in the media, and suddenly, he had an international crowd watching and cheering him on.
Across The Ocean
Due to his newfound fame, the orphanage received a jaw-dropping message: a couple was interested in adopting Dima.
Earnest and Ruth Chaves from Vermont heard Dima's story and wanted to adopt him. They had previously adopted seven other children, so they were no stranger to the process, wanting to provide him with a loving home and family.
The adoption was approved and Dima made his way to his new family, who renamed him Zebadiah once he arrived.
The Difference Love Makes
The Chaves poured so much love, time, patience, and effort into Zebadiah that they were seeing rapid improvements. After a year under their care, he was able to learn how to eat by himself, walk (with a walker), and speak. In fact, he speaks two languages now, English and Ukrainian. Otherwise, he appears to be doing well, with his adoptive father continuing to post photos of him playing and enjoying family outings.
There are, sadly, other stories very similar to Zebadiah's for children born with hydrocephalus.
In 2015, twin boys Jiang Jingzhi and Jiang Zhihui in Yulin, China, were born 33 weeks prematurely with a slew of health problems, including hydrocephalus.
Just Too Much
They were also abandoned by their mother, but not until 2017, after the boys had reached two years old. Outlets report that the mother left due to the amount of stress her babies' conditions caused her.
They were originally being cared for in the hospital, but the fees became far more than the family could afford, wracking up to over 70,000 yuan (approximately $10,000) in just two weeks. So, their treatment continued at home even as the twins' health deteriorated.
A Father's Strength
The main difference between their story and Zebadiah's is that they didn't need to be adopted out. Though the stress their mother felt proved too much, the boys' father, Jiang Laicai, continued to look after them with the help of his mother and sister.
"I don't want to blame her. But I would not give up. I would find ways to treat my baby boys," he told the press.
He even ran a fundraiser to help pay for their treatment, having raised almost $60,000.
Dedication And Love
What rings true in both Zebadiah and the Jiangs' stories is the power that even just one loving person can hold.
While at the orphanage, the workers were likely stretched thin, but did all they could to keep Zebadiah alive even through frightening times. Then there were his adoptive parents, who were able to focus largely on his development and help him grow into an incredible young boy.
For the Jiangs, the resolution their father showed even when left by his partner is astounding. His love for his sons is completely unmatched, and they couldn't be in better hands with him watching over them.
To underestimate the power of love is to underestimate one of the forces that drive our world. Without love, care, and nurturing souls, far too make people would have been cast aside by society, people who then did amazing things.
Though it can't cure illnesses such as hydrocephalus, love can provide the next best thing: a respite from a life that's otherwise so full of struggle and pain.
The next time you're in a low spot and an act of love helps bring you back, no matter how small, be sure to appreciate the person who provided it. Encouraging more kindness in the world will only make things better for everyone.