When developmental disabilities specialist Diana Perry met Tomas last year at the Village of Hope, she thought he would do best as an only child in a family, but she did not think it would be in her family.
"I think our meeting was divinely inspired," Perry said about 5-year-old Tomas. "I see foster kids all the time, but after I met Tomas I could not stop thinking about him."
Perry, a staff member in the department of pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, later discovered a family had set up a prayer vigil well before she began thinking about adopting Tomas. For six months, the family prayed Tomas would find a home in which he would be understood and would be the only child. "One day a woman was telling me how she wished she could adopt all of the children," Perry said. "When I started telling her my situation, she started crying. She realized I was talking about the child she and her family had been praying for."
"I thought my family and friends would think I was crazy when I told them I was thinking of adopting Tomas," Perry said. "Instead, they encouraged my decision and gave me full support. So I did it. It has been so much easier than I ever dreamed it would be."
Tomas came to the Village of Hope from a children's shelter where he had been in child protective services since age 2. He was sent there after an adoptive placement fell apart. He was not able to speak any words when Perry first saw him. When she became his "mommy" six months ago, he knew 40. Now Tomas knows 800 words, he can swim and he has a best friend — his dog Dulce.
Perry credits Tomas with his own improvements. "I didn't force him to do anything but eat and sleep," Perry said. "He's really proud of himself. The pieces were all there for him to do it. I loved him, hugged him and held him — whatever he needed. I let him be a little boy with no pressure to be a 5-year-old, because in his mind he's not 5.
"I just let him get into his groove," she said. "He did all the work." Tomas and Perry have been together six months. His adoption will be final in January.
Developmental specialists at the Village of Hope assess and diagnose visiting children, develop treatment plans, educate parents about the children's developmental needs, make referrals for school services and evaluate the overall health of children. They serve children with challenges including mental retardation, autism, language difficulties and attention deficit disorder.