Updated: May 26, 2020
Redemption. So many stories of redemption have been beautifully woven in our ten years. Some stories seemed impossible at times, yet the journey has shown us that the sometimes dark and winding road is worth it every single time. Today, we are thrilled to share an update on Theo Bence, also known as Abu. We get to share how two stories collided and became one.
Theo’s story with The Raining Season began nearly three years ago. In November of 2016, The Raining Season received a call from a hospital in Freetown about a child suffering from severe malnutrition. His father brought him in and wanted to place him in TRS’s care to give him a chance at survival. Theo, known then as Abu, was only 10 months old. His father wanted Abu in a place where he would be cared for, receive medications and be fed. At that time, Abu and his half-sister came to our center. Over the next several months, under the care of Nurse Sylvia and our staff, Abu began to make progress.
Abu had been at the center for three months when the Bence family met him. Aubrey and Ryan Bence, along with their three children, were introduced to The Raining Season by Aubrey’s best friend and The Raining Season’s founder, Erica. The Bence family began sponsoring three of our kiddos at the center and eventually, Aubrey was asked to be on the board. Being a board member means that you also travel to our center in Sierra Leone. In February of 2017, Aubrey made her first trip to Sierra Leone. Aubrey shared that adoption had never crossed her mind. Her goal of the trip was to see everything that she had heard about The Raining Season and to spend the week loving on the kids. She knew about Abu. She remembered seeing his intake pictures. They had left an impression on her, and so she planned to spend the week loving on Abu. She would spend time with him and he would get physical touch and bonding.
It was on day four of Aubrey’s trip that their two worlds collided. Aubrey shared, “I was holding Abu on the lanai of his apartment and I could see him clear as day as a 7-year old riding his bike and jumping into a pool that didn’t exist.” It was in that moment that the doors to adoption opened.
Aubrey shared, “Life pre-adoption was perfect, but I really felt like comfort was not where I would see God work miracles. I felt like God was calling us to a life where miracles could be seen and not a life of comfort.” Like Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water, Aubrey felt like it was their calling to step out in faith. In July of 2018, the Bence family passed court and Abu officially became their son. In May of this year, part of the Bence family traveled to Sierra Leone to bring Theo home.
Today, Theo has been home in Indiana for almost four months. Aubrey shared an update on how Theo is doing. “I just look at him and he is not the same kid as when we visited him and when we first brought him home. He was always very somber and serious; very fearful and cautious. Now, he is all smiles and laughter. His demeanor is so happy. He is still cautious but has come so far. Within 4 weeks he was walking on his own. When he came home, he really was not talking. Now, in three months, his vocabulary has come so far! He copies what we say. He has the comprehension of a 3-year-old. He looks and acts more like an 18-month-old, but he is catching up. Medically speaking, he has shown crazy improvements. His response to medical care in the U.S. has been impressive. What you get to see happen in a child's life that could have been forgotten, and to get to see them within 3 months thriving instead of surviving is an incredible experience.”
What does going from a family of five to a family of six look like? “I was worried about our three older kids. It was always a part of the conversation and we never pushed it on them. Theo grew a place in their heart, just like he did ours. They love and have accepted him. It has been one of the greatest blessings. He is theirs, too. To see the four of them come together in the love and adoration that goes both ways, it feels like it’s always been there.”
We are thrilled to hear that Theo is thriving! We are thankful to see a story of redemption continue to unfold. Join us in praying for Theo and the Bence family. We pray for his continued acclimation, attachment, physical, social and emotional well being. We can’t wait to see Theo continue to meet milestones. Theo, we are rooting for you!
The Raining Season