A Hampton, Georgia family is sharing about their journey of adopting a child from India and how God led them throughout the way.
Adoption is a big decision for any family and especially the thought of adopting from a country thousands of miles away, but Julie and Nick Akin were firm on their decision to bring home a child whom they would love and care for always.
The Akin family and their 4 kids whom they’re homeschooling say that bringing home Tanvi, 4, was the best decision of their lives because she’s completely changed them forever. “She has completely changed our lives,” her mother says. “I tell everyone she has changed us, and I am so glad we will never be the same,” Julie says.
Today Julie says, “Addy is almost 11, Jude is 6, Tanvi is 4, and Milo just turned 1,” she says. The family had always wanted to adopt children after helping orphans in Uganda in 2018 as part of a church hosting event there. Nick is a Christian worship leader and Julie is a stay-at-home mom. They brought home Tanvi from India and she’s been a part of their family for the last 2 and a half years now.
Recalling those times, Nick Akin says, “We’d always talked about adopting one day, but it was just talk with no action, like, ‘How cool would it be to adopt a child?’” Nick says. He added, “So, we came home, and we really started praying about it.” They thought over this decision for over a month to make sure they were not acting on their emotions. They were also scouting for which country would be a good fit by researching international adoption.
While doing their homework on what it was to adopt from India they found out that there were a staggering 31 million orphans in India which made them firm in their decision. When their adoption agency sent them Tanvi’s file, they were in their car outside a drug store and saw her picture. “We opened it up, and there she was with those big brown eyes,” Nick Akin says. “And, we just looked at each other, like, ‘That’s her! That’s her!'”
They were informed by them that 22-month-old Tanvi had some medical issues, and could not sit up on her own. The Akins flew 8,000 miles to Delhi, India, in 2019 December to the orphanage where Tanvi was and was surprised to see how tiny she looked. “She was almost 2 years old and only weighed 14 pounds,” Julie Akin says.
They soon found out that she was missing a sacrum, a triangular bone needed for stability in the lower spine, and also did not have 3 lower vertebrae. Tanvi had a rare birth defect- caudal regression syndrome, where the lower half of the body isn’t formed correctly leading to severe gastrointestinal issues among other complications. “It was scary,” Julie Akin says. “We said, ‘Yes, (we’re) scared,’ but we knew that she was our daughter. The file, she’d never had an x-ray. She had seen a doctor, but nothing really official.”
Nick and Julie Akin noticed that Tanvi wouldn’t have any reaction on her face when the Akins would pick her up every day at the orphanage to get to know her during that week. “She never smiled,” Nick Akin says. “She never cried. She would just sit there with a blank stare the whole time. We’d play with toys, (went on) a 20-hour plane ride, not a tear. No tears.”
Even when they were welcomed back at the Atlanta airport by family and friends who came to meet Tanvi, she never had a smile on her face.
“All those pictures, everybody is smiling, and (there’s) her, kind of solemn, in every photo,” her father says. Later in they got to know the reason as she was in severe pain. “Within 2 days of coming home from India, we realized her needs had become an emergency,” Julie Akin says.
Tanvi was rushed to the emergency department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, where doctors informed them that her digestive system had completely shut down. Doctors kept her there for 11 days and attached an ostomy bag through an opening in her abdomen so that the waste or urine could leave her body. She had 3 more surgeries at the hospital including a complicated one that helped correct birth defects on the lower part of her body and one more to stabilize her spine.
“It’s amazing, just the strength that God gave us through all of it,” Julie Akin says. “I never thought, 5 years ago, if you had asked me if I could change an ostomy bag, I would have been scared out of my mind, and thought never. But things like that just became second nature, just became life.”
Tanvi’s condition started to improve and the first time she smiled was when she sat on the floor of their home with her brothers and sisters. Now after 2 years she is showing remarkable improvement and proudly declares “This is my mom, this is my dad, this is my Jude, this is my Addy, and this is my Milo,” wherever she goes with the family. She uses a walker designed for her mobility. “She’s getting to the point where she’ll hold the walker, and let go for a minute and talk to you, and put her hands back on it, which means her legs are getting stronger,” her father says.
Her father says, “I take her into Walmart, and she’s on her little walker, and she says, ‘Can I go say hi to friends ?’ ” Nick Akin says. “And, by friends, she just means everybody, everybody in the store. She just walks through and goes, ‘Hi, hi,” and everybody is smiling at her, everybody. She’s just bridging gaps. She is an amazing child.” This family has faced a lot of uncommon situations but they says if given a chance they would do it all again. “I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Julie Akin says. “She is our child, and we fight for her, every single day, every chance we get.”
Ephesians 1:5 “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great delight.”
What a wonderful story of a family giving the gift of adoption to a child who would have died without their help. This reminds us of how we too were adopted by God into a heavenly family. Amen!