There's always room for one more

November 25, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Last Thanksgiving, Lynn and Buddy DeHaven gave thanks for the addition of Bethany Victoria -- now 20 months old -- to their family.

The year before, they gave thanks for the arrival of Kevin Andrew -- now 2 1/2 .

During Thanksgiving 1990, they gave thanks for the arrival of Kaity -- now 5.

In 1989, they gave thanks that Tony -- also 5 now -- was about to join the family.

That year, the Millersville couple, who already had five children, including two Korean girls adopted shortly after they were married nearly 15 years ago, didn't exactly set out to adopt four more Korean children.

"I mean, nobody sits down and says 'We're going to adopt six kids,' " Lynn DeHaven points out. Their biological children, Michael, 26, Lynette, 21, and Lee, 20, are living on their own. Michael, in fact, has a son, Zachary, 1, making Mr. Dehaven a grandparent at 47. Lynette has a daughter, Jennifer, 2, doing the same for Mrs. Dehaven at 37.

But the pictures of children who needed homes that appeared in an Associated Catholic Charities publication called "Heartbeat" kept winning the Baptist couple over.

"One look at the picture, one tug at our heart strings, and before you knew it we were filling out an application," says Buddy DeHaven.

And it's just coincidence -- or maybe God's will, say the DeHavens -- that during the previous four Thanksgivings, the family was either celebrating or anticipating the arrival of a child with special medical needs.

"We have been so blessed," says Mr. DeHaven, a designer at Westinghouse Corp.

"They're a lot of work, but the amount of love and blessings you get back are immeasurable, and they're worth more than having two new cars. This year, I'm thankful the kids are healthy and the worst of the surgeries are behind them, and that I have a job, and that with just me working, I can support my family," he says.

Mr. and Mrs. DeHaven met at Westinghouse, where they were co-workers.

"He had a son, Michael, and I had a son, Lee, and a daughter, Lynette," recalls Mrs. DeHaven, who quit her job at Westinghouse to raise the family.

"We thought life was just as perfect as it could be," she says. "I mean, who has more than three kids these days?"

But they decided they did want more, and when they found Mrs. DeHaven couldn't have more children, they began to look at adoption.

Someone gave them a number for Associated Catholic Charities -- "the luckiest day of our lives," says Mrs. DeHaven.

Nine months later they adopted two Korean girls, Christy, now 13, and Cindy, now 11; today they're students at Old Mill Middle School North.

"And life was again wonderful and we thought we had everything," says Mrs. DeHaven. "But when Cindy went to school, I was really lonely."

After consulting with all five of their children, the couple decided to try to adopt a baby who had special medical needs.

Tony was the first.

He arrived at age 4 months, needing physical therapy because he had some paralysis on one side of his body. He was born with Kawasi's Disease, an illness with symptoms including joint pain, and a heart defect.

"Almost a month before he got sick was when we applied for Kaity," Mrs. DeHaven says. "We felt there was such an age difference between Tony and Cindy that he should have a growing up-mate."

Kaity had a hole in her heart that needed surgical repair.

She also has mild cerebral palsy and a vision problem that will soon require surgery.

Her legs must be stretched for an hour daily to improve muscle tone.

"That was a different Christmas when Kaity arrived," Mrs. DeHaven recalls.

"Kaity had never heard English before or seen European faces, and all the sounds, smells and tastes were different," she says.

For a while, they were a happy family with seven children.

"But time went on and we got that urge again," recalls Mrs. DeHaven. "We have a difficult time with that paper -- 'Heartbeat.' They've threatened to take us off the list."

And so Kevin arrived. They'd called Catholic Charities about another child whose picture they had seen, but decided to adopt Kevin.

Kevin needed urinary tract surgery, which was performed by specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

The budget was getting stretched and Mrs. DeHaven was spending between eight and 10 hours a week at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center with the children -- not including surgeries.

"Then we got another 'Heartbeat' -- and we saw her," Mrs. DeHaven says. "She's the icing on the cake."

That was the beginning of the adoption of Bethany Victoria, a cheerful toddler born with cleft palate and lip, along with a disease that causes thin skin and other physical problems.

This Thanksgiving, there is no new baby at the DeHaven household. But there's still plenty to be thankful for, says Christy.

"This year, I'm thankful for my nice big family."

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