When Vanessa Delgado gave birth to conjoined twins Melody and Madison in 2008 they only lived for one hour.
But their short lives had a profound effect on Vanessa – she wanted to adopt a child with special needs. “After seeing them fight for their lives, we became very medically minded and prepared in our hearts to take care of a child with special needs,” she told Today.
Vanessa and husband Jason from Haltom City, Texas were already parents to their daughter Kenya, then 2, and went on to have a son Jonah in 2011.
But when Vanessa read Anton’s story on Facebook that year, she “knew he was to be our son”.
Anton Delgado was a twin born to a surrogate mother in Moscow in 2010. His biological parents took his healthy brother home – but abandoned Anton because he has a rare genetic condition called epidermolysis bullosa. The rare skin disorder means his skin is as delicate as butterfly’s wings and even the slightest amount of friction can cause crippling blisters.
The boy was exactly the same age as her son Judah – and even shared the same birthday. “I couldn’t fathom my son Judah laying in a hospital without a mommy,” she said. “I knew Anton needed a family and I wanted nothing more than for it to be us.”
The couple paid $2,000 of the $40,000 adoption costs and got a grant for the rest from Reece’s Rainbow charity. Then 13 months later – they went to Russia to collect their son. “Anton was 2 when we took him home, so he wasn’t speaking a lot of Russian,” she said. “We used signs for ‘please’ and ‘more,’ so he would have basic communication. He was brilliant. Within two months, he could count in English and even say, ‘I love you.'”
In March this year, Anton, now 5, underwent a “life-changing” bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota Medical School. The transplant wiped out his immune system to give him the collagen he needs to repair his skin from the donor’s cells.
“His skin used to be missing on his back and shoulders. His shirt would stick to his skin and I had to pry it off with coconut oil. It was horrible. Now, for the first time, he’s not waking up with a bloody pillowcase,” she said.
It’s not a cure, but it help stem the painful effects of his disease and give him improved quality of life.
“For anyone who is considering a special needs adoption, do your research and prepare your family,” she said. “It’s challenging and the days are hard, but it’s so worth it. Anton has added so much to our lives.”
Photos: Facebook / Vanessa Delgado