GREELEY, Colo. — The first thing that struck Davida Warren about Jada's profile wasn't her blindness, or the fact she spent eight years in an orphanage, or she was from Bulgaria.
It was her name.
Davida called her husband, Jacob, over to the computer because she had the same name they picked out for their first baby. They got a Jet instead. Then, a year later, they got a Jace.
Davida stumbled across Jada's brief description while searching for African children. Their boys were older, now 9 and 8, and they decided to adopt because of the need. There are 160 million children in the world without a home, Jacob said. They had the room, both in their spacious Greeley home and in their hearts.
Still, with Jada curled up in her lap, Davida said they weren't looking for a child like her. They weren't looking for a girl, or an 8-year-old who had spent her life in an orphanage, or one with special needs. Those would be challenges, but it surprised both Davida and Jacob how much those challenges didn't seem to matter.
They inquired about her, and unlike several other instances when they tried to adopt an African child, each step opened another door. They didn't know at first that Jada was the one for them, but nothing discouraged them from being more and more drawn to her. When the agency finally sent a video of her, they were hooked.
She's been home more than a month, and Jada's blindness is even less of an issue then they thought it would be. It's a non-issue, Davida said. The first night they brought her home, she wanted to jump on their bed alone, and she uses the swing set like a pro. She's navigating the stairs. If she needs someone to lead her around, she says the first words of English they taught her, "Please help," or she tells the nearest people to "say hi" so she can follow their voice to them. She doesn't know much English, but she picks up more words every day, and her family is learning enough Bulgarian so Jada not only understands them but can correct their pronunciation. When they get it right, she says, "Bravo." They Google the trickier phrases, though the translation works much better from English to Bulgarian.
Friends from their adoption ministry at Christ Community Church warned them about bad days, and there were a few at first. Jada, for example, was used to having food in front of her when she sat down at the dinner table, so she was impatient and threw fits to match her emotional level, which they believe hovers around a 3-year-old's at the moment. They are expecting more tough days. Yet those fits have already calmed down. In fact, she seems to have replaced them with a goofball's personality. She changes her voice like a cartoon character's, imitates the thumping beat of a techno song and bounces up and down and giggles.
"She has a really, really good sense of humor," Jet said. "She's funny."
That's helped melt the tension between Jada and her two brothers. They were a little nervous at first. Jada wasn't sure what these two boys were doing in her new home either.
"But then we discovered that she's actually really friendly," Jet said. "Bottom line: She's awesome."
Her parents know developmentally she is slower than other kids her age, but there are signs she'll catch up. Jada loves her Bulgarian children's songs, but she's developing a love affair with American music. After hearing a popular song on the radio, she can hum it well enough to Davida so she can hum along with her. Jada hums a lot of Adele. Even some physical signs are encouraging: She lost four teeth in the month she's been home, which doctors took as a sign that she's finally getting enough nutrition to grow permanent ones.
Their plans for her are simple for the summer. They just want to bond with her and maybe start her on using a cane. Davida home schools, so the bonding will also give her time to assess whether she needs help from therapists.
Really, they already seem bonded. The boys enjoy playing with her, she's comfortable around her parents, and her favorite phrase is, "I love you." And even the family's cat, which hissed at her for weeks, crawled into her lap for the first time last week.