We are the Gehrung Family, Nancy, Brian, Collin (22), Shannon (20) and Ava (10). We have been wonderfully blessed by Ava since we brought her home 5 years ago. We are currently in the process of adopting another beautiful little girl from Asia.
Our story is a bit long in detail because so much has happened in these last 5 years. These details are so important to our story and all of these details have lead us to our newest daughter waiting for us, Aliza Rose. Here’s our story…
Brian and I met about 12 years ago. I was a divorced, single mom working full time as a kitchen designer, raising two kids, two dogs and a guinea pig. Collin was 10 and Shannon was 8. Brian was (and still is) a full time sales and service clerk at the Menomonee Falls Post Office. Once we met, we never looked back. We dated for 4 years and were married on November 8, 2008 with Collin and Shannon by our sides.
Brian, Collin, Shannon and I are all “little people”. We each have Achondroplasia Dwarfism, the most common type of genetic dwarfism, just like some of those on the TLC shows “Little People, Big World” and “The Little Couple”. I am the youngest of 3 children in my family, plus I am the only girl and the only one in my family with dwarfism. Brian is the youngest of 5 kids and he is also the only one in his family with dwarfism. We all belong to the group “Little People of America” (LPA) a social/support group for Little People.
A few years after we were married, Brian and I began to think about adding to our family, but since I have several chronic yet stable neurological issues related to my dwarfism, another pregnancy could be very difficult for me, so we began looking into adoption. But the idea of adoption tugged at our hearts for a few other reasons too. With our involvement in LPA, we had learned there were many dwarf children around the world in need of families and in our hearts, we knew we wanted to adopt a child with dwarfism. Plus, we had learned that in some countries around the world, children and adults with dwarfism are ostracized and treated as outcasts. This sad fact weighed heavy on our hearts. How could we not reach out to one of these dwarf children? Since all four of us grew up as little people in the US where we were accepted and given many opportunities, we simply felt called to bring one of these children home and to make them a part of our family, a family who truly understands the many physical, emotional and social struggles little people can encounter during their lives.
Then one day in June of 2010, we learned of a 5 year old little girl with Achondroplasia living in China, through LPA’s adoption group. After mountains of paperwork, many appointments and a whole lot of prayers, we met our daughter Ava Rose, our first little LOVE from China, in May of 2011.
Soon after bringing her home, Ava received a devastating medical diagnosis. Her doctor had ordered a CT scan of her brain, because we and he suspected Ava might have Hydrocephalus (water on the brain), which can be common in those who have Achondroplasia Dwarfism. Before we even arrived home from having the test completed, the doctor’s office called. As I answered the phone, my stomach began to ache. I had a gut feeling that they were not calling so soon with good news. I began to cry as I heard the nurse tell me… “Ava doesn’t have Hydrocephalus, instead, the CT revealed that she’d had a massive stroke either in utero or at birth. It affected 75% of the left side of her brain, it affected her speech, left her with right sided weakness and cerebral palsy, she will probably have life long cognitive and physical challenges and delays and there is a good chance that she could have seizures.” We were stunned… but we pulled it together and began to learn about these new diagnoses and set out to get her the best medical care and therapies we could find. Ava was at high risk for SUDEP, Sudden Unexplained Death due to Epilepsy and that was terrifying to us. Since no medication could control Ava’s seizures and since they were focused in one area of her brain, a 2 stage neurological surgery became our only option. The first surgery in November 2014 itself went smoothly, unfortunately, Ava’s recovery was anything but smooth. Amazingly though, eight days after surgery, Ava was strong enough to be released to go home. Unfortunately, two days later, we brought her to the ER and she was admitted for an infection. She finally began to seem like her old self in April of 2015, but in May, we began to see new and increasing seizure activity. In June, her neuro team confirmed the need to plan for another surgery to stop her seizures all while dealing with a blood clotting disorder. Thankfully, with a lot of teamwork, planning, testing and an amazing little test called a “MEG Scan”, Ava’s second surgery was set. This time, surgery and recovery went much smoother and was successful. Ava has only had a few seizures in the last year and a half. Making the decision for Ava to undergo these two complex brain surgeries were two of the hardest decisions we have had to make. But we are so happy we choose these surgeries. Today, approximately 18 months since her last surgery, Ava is growing and thriving both cognitively and physically. She still has and will probably always have many cognitive and physical challenges, but at least for now, she is seizure free.
In the summer of 2015, a happy, healthy Ava started asking for a little brother or sister. That August, we were blessed to be able to visit with several of Ava’s former caregivers. During that visit, we learned that a sweet, almost 2 year old little girl with Achondroplasia had just arrived at the same institute that Ava was in. After many thoughts and prayers, we knew she was meant to be ours and we began the process of bringing home our 2nd little love from China. We as a family of 5 have experienced a few bumps (that were out of our control and that temporarily side-tracked our momentum) along our adoption process, but we are now working as quickly as possible to bring her home and to fundraise too. Ava just can’t wait for her little sister to come home and neither can we. Thank you for reading our story and thank you for your support, positive thoughts and prayers!
http://reecesrainbow.org/wp-content/uploads/Gehrung.jpg628613Michellehttp://reecesrainbow.org/wp-content/uploads/officialrrlogo350web.pngMichelle2016-06-26 19:28:502017-01-18 13:15:34ALIZA ROSE for the Gehrung family -- WI