AURORA, Colo. — The late actress Valerie Harper once said, “However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.”
For Aurora couple Brent and Kelsey Harris, it didn’t matter how a child came to them, it just mattered that it happened.
This is the beginning of their journey that would send them halfway across the world.
“I actually made a joke with my mom when I was a little kid that I`m never getting married, and that I`m going to adopt 26 little kids,” Brent Harris said. “At least, I’m married, so…”
They say what you put into the universe may boomerang right back to you. The Harris’ did agree to adopt one, and news of that possible one came in the mail last Christmas.
They were sent one little picture, and just a couple facts. He was a little boy who’d been living in an orphanage halfway across the world in the city of Yerevan, Armenia from the time he was dropped off at just two months old. He’s now two years old.
His parents had him tested, and they diagnosed him with dwarfism, and then 8 days later they took him to the hospital that he was born in and relinquished their rights.
While heart wrenching, his dwarfism is what led Brent and Kelsey Harris to find him. Brent and Kelsey are also little people.
Their condition is reason to smile: it led them to one another and now may have led them to a third family member.
“When you`re ready to be parents, you`re ready to be parents,” Brent Harris said. “[Kelsey’s] body said it wasn’t right, but we knew adoption was right.”
Dwarfism is a result of one dominant gene and one recessive or “average height gene.” If Brent and Kelsey were to deliver a baby, there would be a 25 percent chance they`d be average height, a 50 percent chance the baby would be born healthy with dwarfism, or a 25 percent chance for the baby to be born with significant medical problems, often resulting in a short life span. Considering the risk and after enduring multiple miscarriages, they agreed adoption was their answer.
“To do something good for a kid who really needs,” Brent Harris said.
A need they understand firsthand. Brent and Kelsey both come from average height families. They say adopting a child with dwarfism allows them to teach how to navigate life when you’re 4 feet 6 inches tall. It was a quick and resounding yes when responding to their adoption agency.
They agreed to go halfway around the world, and they agreed to be there in just one week.
“It was really surreal to be on the other side of the world, in a bustling city, and just knowing that our son is somewhere in this city,” Brent Harris said.
The boy has never left orphanage grounds.
There are 70-100 kids, all under the age of seven there. “[There are] two selfless caregivers for 12 children, many with special needs,” Brent Harris said.
Those caregivers work up to 48 hour shifts, and make the equivalent of $250 per month. In America, children usually age out of foster care once they turn 18. In Armenia, Brent and Kelsey were told if kids aren`t adopted by the time they`re 7, they`re institutionalized.
“The director said the swings and see-saws are actually critical for the orphanage because when a kid is growing up their parents rock them,” Brent Harris said.
Kelsey says as a woman longing to become a mother, this was hard to hear.
“When they`re needing that comfort…and that comfort is not there,” Kelsey Harris said.
Everything that sits in the orphanage is donated. There’s no sand in the sand box, spoons are over-sized for toddler mouths and clothing is often mismatched.
“Power Wheels. None of them work. So, they depend on each other to push them around,” Brent Harris said.
But the kids are kids, they don’t know any better and their smiles seem to tell us, they make it work.
On Tuesday night, we will air the second part of our series “Little Miracle.” You will see the moment that Brent and Kelsey meet that little boy for the first time.
GoFundMe: Positive Impact Fund
The Harris family started what they call a “Positive Impact Fund.” It’s a “GoFundMe” with three goals: to improve conditions of orphanages in Armenia, to help orphaned children with dwarfism find homes and lastly, to help offset some of the expenses the Harris’ incurred on their journey.