A tear-jerking story of love and dedication from a family from Tennessee for a starving boy from Bulgaria is going to make you shed some tears today- so keep a few tissues handy.
In 2015, Priscilla Morse saw a photo of baby Ryan who weighed only 8-lbs at 7 years of age, but now, because of her love and sincerity, Ryan and his life has taken a positive turn.
David and Priscilla Morse of Tennessee have 2 biological sons of their own, but they decided to open their hearts and home to a little girl from Russia named McKenzie in 2012.
The 3-year-old had Down syndrome and a heart condition, but the Morses had no problem with that. They thought they were done adopting, but then, in 2014, Priscilla saw a photo she couldn’t forget. The photo was of a starving boy so malnourished, he looked more like a baby than a 6-year-old.
The boy, they later named Ryan, was literally wasting away in an orphanage in Bulgaria and wasn’t supposed to live long unless someone adopted him and Priscilla decided that she would be the one.
She felt God calling her to bring Ryan home, “I don’t know how to describe it, but you look at them and you just know,” Priscilla Morse said. “We had decided long ago that if we were going to adopt, it was going to be the kids no one was coming for – kids in Third World countries who are locked away in orphanages.”
Thankfully her husband David too was onboard with saving baby Ryan, and the couple began the process of another international adoption.
In November of 2015, everything was set for Ryan to come live with the Morse family, and Priscilla flew to Bulgaria, ready to bring her new son home. Ryan was 7 years old, and weighed only 8 pounds. “He was bones and skin,” Priscially Morse recalled. “He literally looked like a skeleton. The first thing that went through my head was, ‘he’s going to die’.”
Ryan had many medical problems, like cerebral palsy, club feet, scoliosis, and microcephaly — a birth defect that affects brain growth and head size. Getting him prompt medical attention was crucial for any hope in saving baby Ryan.
Once they were back in the United States, Priscilla and David Morse rushed Ryan to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. “I had never in my life seen doctors look at a child and burst into tears,” Priscilla says.
She said, “They all said there was no way that this kid should still have been alive.”
Ryan spent a month in the hospital and Doctors weren’t sure he was going to make it, they found he suffered from refeeding syndrome, a condition making it difficult for his body to digest nutrients it wasn’t used to consuming. Instead, he’d just throw his food back up.
“It was intense for a long time,” Priscilla says, “and I think you kind of guard yourself against just how serious it is so you can push through every day and do what you have to do.”
Even with all the challenges and special medical needs, the Morse never gave up on saving baby Ryan. Doctors fitted Ryan with a feeding tube, which helped him get the nutrition he so desperately needed.
Soon he grew stronger, and the doctors were able to address other conditions of Ryan’s and after some years, his complete transformation was amazing!
Ryan’s clubbed feet and spinal rod placement were rectified and proper nutrition helped him come out of his newborn clothing to a child’s size 5/6. He also made significant gains with speech and communication and now has a full range of motion in his hands.
Now Ryan turned 12 in May of 2020, and looking at the picture of him now seems so unbelievable.
Priscilla says Ryan’s doctors and therapists are hopeful the boy will continue to thrive and reach his full potential. It’s going to be a long process,” she says. “Seven years of neglect can’t be undone in a day.”
Although Ryan still has a long road ahead of him, his progress is proof enough to never give up. “Everyone deserves a family,” Priscilla Morse says. “No one should be written off if they have special needs just because it’s going to be hard. Life is hard anyway, so you adjust and you learn, because these kids – they are so worthy.”
Since Ryan’s adoption, David and Priscilla Moore later went on to adopt Gigi, a special needs child from the Ukraine, as well as give birth to another biological son, Will.
This true life story is such a powerful reminder to us to never give up no matter what, and with the help of God, we can accomplish everything we can to save lives and give children a hope and a future.