Psalm 68:5-6

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I am Stepanie Nance. My family adopted two little boys with Down Syndrome from Ukraine in 2010. I hope to educate and to inspire you. I hope to make you laugh and to make you cry.

Come along for the ride. It's a wild one!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My goodness how Zhen has changed in the last two months!

The little Zhenya I met in July was much like a wounded animal. His behaviors initially alarmed me, but I knew from the reading I had done that I should expect certain behaviors. I did a little reading on institutional autism and regular old autism, just to see if that was what we were dealing with. It all boils down to this: we will not think about any diagnoses for a year, at least.

Now, I'm already seeing improvement in his behaviors and disposition! When he was first home, he would crawl away into his room and shut the door. I thought that was a pretty smart way to deal with our big crazy family. We gave him the freedom to explore and choose where to play from day one. Now, more and more, he is choosing to hang out with the rest of the family.

He gives me amazing heartfelt hugs. He really, REALLY wants to be close, but sometimes he can't handle it and ends up ringing my bell with his tough little skull. He got me good tonight and I have the headache to prove it! I'm happy to report that this hardly ever happens anymore. He's really getting the hang of accepting affection!

About Zhen's name. I can't help but feeling that we goofed. We love the name, but people don't know how to say it. God bless them for asking, but half of them get it wrong even after I say it for them a few times. A couple of people don't even try. I just don't want to be irritated with the people I love. If you are reading this, I'm NOT talking about you! :)

The 'zh' in Zhen makes the sound of the 'zs' in the name Zsa Zsa. It's not Zen, that's a little new-age-y for our family. It's not Jen. The good thing is that he knows his name and he does respond to it!

Eating is going well. He hasn't choked on anything in two whole days! All the kids finally understand that you just cannot hand him a banana to eat. It must be mushed or we will have a serious problem. He does a really great job of feeding himself, but he eats extremely fast. Sometimes I like to feed him myself for two reasons: to promote bonding with me as his mother and also to slow him down a bit and encourage actual chewing and enjoyment of his food.

Bedtime and naptime are easy. He sleeps well at night and goes to bed without a fuss. He rests at naptime but I cannot count on him actually sleeping in the afternoon. I'll take quiet rest time over nothing at all. Afternoon quiet time is the key to my remaining sanity!

Zhen continues to crawl gracefully on one knee and one foot. He uses the knee to balance and the foot to propel. He's a smooth crawler. Occasionally I will catch him scooting on his butt. This I will not encourage. I've heard of kids wearing out their pants doing this regularly.

The doctor was really pleased with his physical condition when we saw her today. He will need a heart echo and his eyes checked. She agreed to check him for parasites and lead levels after I related how I experienced him eating anything disgusting he could get his hands on at the orphanage. He doesn't do that here though. Hmmmm.

All in all, Zhen is an easy boy. He's just easy. Easy to feed, easy to entertain, easy to care for. Getting to know the real Zhen, that's a little harder. He's shy. He's timid. He's starting to let me in, though. I like what I see more and more.

He's a keeper.


  1. Now you have me crying! And this was the boy that you said couldn't care less about you- you were just another lady to him. God is so good! I pray that you will see more and more of the potential that God had woven into him each day as he learns to trust and love you more.

  2. Ok, you're going to have to say Zhen's name for me the next time I see you. I've been saying it wrong, too. So glad he's getting used to home so easily!

  3. HI Stephanie! I just wanted to actually comment to let you know that I have been checking in and I am so happy to hear things are going well! You have all been in my prayers! Hope to meet your new additions sometime soon! Take care Stephanie and thanks so much for updating so often so we can experience this journey with you all! Congrats on the boys and being home--how exciting!
    -Rebecca E.

  4. I guess you will have to record yourself saying his name and posting it, because I still can't figure it out! Hahaha... Oh and we want pictures of the cuties! Glad they are doing good

  5. Thanks for continuing to share about your sweet boys. Very smart to wait on dx. So glad to hear that he is coming out and interacting more.

  6. I can sympathize with the name thing... We named our first born Ryvre (pronounced River, but ALWAYS mispronounced). After that experience, we named our son Malachi, spelled just like the Bible so there would be no confusion. People still pronounce it wrong all the time. Our third is Zea (ZAY-uh); I know she'll have the same issues. SIGH! Oh well. We'll never learn!



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