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Adopting Love: Beyond the Viral Video
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent

Paige (Moyer) Zezulka's Valley roots played role in selfless decision


            The video has millions of views since it was posted on Facebook in late August. Ten-year-old Ivey has a box placed in front of her. Ivey reads a framed message she took from the box and exclaims, "I'm going to be adopted!?" and

At the adoption proceedings, Paige Zezulka holds two-

year-old Lita while three-year-old Kai rests on Daniel's

shoulders.  Ten-year-old Ivey is at right.

breaks into tears as Daniel and Paige Zezulka, her foster--now adopting--parents hug her.

            Meant merely as a documentation of the moment for family and friends, the video went viral and was picked up by national outlets such as Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News, received international attention, drew a tweet from actress Reese Witherspoon and became the topic of church sermons.

            But that wasnt the end of the story.  The Zezulkas also adpoted Ivey's brother Kai, agre three, and sister Lita, age two.

            How does a young couple make such a momentous, life-changing decision?

            For Paige Zezulka, nee Paige Moyer, part of the answer can be found in the groundwork laid in the Upper Perkiomen Valley, a foundation strengthened by a loving family, a local church and the relationships she cultivated here.

            Paige grew up in Hereford and graduated from Upper Perkiomen High School in 2005.

            Her parents, Ken and Paula Moyer, still live in the Valley, and, together with

In a still from the video, Daniel, Ivey, and Paige 

Zezulka react after Ivey learns she is being adopted

by the couple.  The video posted on Facebook has

over 17 million views.

Paige's brother Kevin, have been "endlessly supportive."

            "So many happy memories include doing things as a family, getting Secret Spot ice cream, seeing a movie together at the Grand Theater, car rides to and from band practice," Paige related.

             "I had a wonderful experience attending Upper Perk. I always felt cared for and supported by my teachers. I was challenged in classes to think differently or more deeply."

            Paige was also influenced by the Bally Mennonite Church, describing the congregants as "authentic Christians" who act on their convictions.

            "In particular I was/am close with Jim and Nina Landis and Glenn and Sharon Bechtel," Paige wrote in an email. "They were my youth leaders and mentors. They spend their free time serving the community, caring for widows and orphans, giving to people living in poverty, giving their money to others."

            At Penn State, Paige got involved with a Christian campus ministry called the Navigators.

            And she had her first painful attacks from Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, leading to surgeries and hospital stays.

            After Paige completed her degree at PSU, she was asked to do a one-year stint helping to start a Navigators ministry at the University of Georgia.

            The good news was she met her future husband through the Navigators. The bad news was the problems with Crohn's continued.

            "I was wrestling through very fundamental questions like 'If there is a God, why would God allow suffering?'" Paige admitted.

            "I see now that without my Crohn's disease complications, Daniel and I wouldn't have needed to adopt to have children, which then led us to want to foster first, which then led us to Ivey, Kai and Lita," Paige said.

            "I was explaining this to Ivey one evening when she said excitedly, 'God wanted you to be my mom so he gave you Crohn's!' My heart melted. I believe she is right. 

            "Another cool thing is that having Crohn's disease has helped me relate with Ivey," Paige wrote. "Ivey has type 1 diabetes and I can talk to her and tell her I do understand that it stinks to have an illness, but I can also help her see the silver lining in it sometimes."

            Daniel and Paige married in 2013, made vague plans to adopt after five years, and eventually settled in Athens, Georgia.

            However, during a visit with friends in California in 2015, a conversation with a foster parent created a spark.

           "I said, 'Oh I could never foster, I would get too attached and I would be heartbroken when the kids left,'" Paige wrote in a Facebook post. The response from a friend changed her perspective.

           "She said, 'Well, we're adults, and we have Christ. We're the most equipped to handle heartache, not children.'

            "Daniel and I also had had many discussions about suffering for years because of my health," Paige said. "This may sound depressing, but don't take it that way: life is full of suffering. It is! However, sometimes we can choose what we suffer for, and we can ask ourselves is it worth it? With fostering our answer was yes, it was worth suffering. Our suffering of a goodbye is worth keeping a child safe."

            The couple developed a plan for fostering, but no timetable.

            Then came a foster care weekend training session--where Paige was appalled by the statistics in her county. "It was something like over 250 foster kids and only eleven open foster homes."

            The Zezulkas decided to start fostering as soon as possible. After slogging through the red tape, on the day after they were approved, the couple received a request to take in Kai, then five months old.

            They subsequently learned that Kai had an older sister, Ivey, and that the birth mother was pregnant with Lita.

            In 2016, Daniel and Paige took in Kai's siblings also.

            The relationship between a foster family and the birth family can be tricky, and the goal for the children is reunification with the birth family, but that wasn't possible in this case.

            Eventually, the Zezulkas made the decision to formally adopt all three of the kids.

            "I am happy to say that things look pretty happy and boring these days," Paige said. "We have been an 'unofficial' family for a long time, but with the adoption being finalized comes a weight being lifted that we didn't even know we were carrying."

            Paige, now a stay-at-home mom with a minivan, has become an ardent advocate for foster care, the need for which has been greatly exacerbated by the opioid crisis.

            "Children are sometimes spending years in group homes, never experiencing the love or critical bonding time with a family."

            Paige is quick to point out that fostering is difficult. But worth it.

            "This is putting yourself in a tough situation for the sake of kids. We, as foster parents, get to keep kids safe for as many days as they are in our home. We advocate for them, we get to see them heal, flourish, learn and grow."

            The process obviously worked out well for Paige and Daniel.

"I hope I don't lose this perspective of thankfulness that I get the honor to see these three beautiful children grow up," Paige wrote.





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