When Sevi was first diagnosed with hydrocephalus at three months old, Tiana and Pete Chavez remember feeling terrified. Terrified of the unknown and at the prospect of putting their baby through brain surgery. But their fear quickly turned into a desire to help other children in need, which led them on an amazing journey and with a household full of kids!
“I didn’t know if hydrocephalus was a fatal condition and I was concerned about Sevi having brain surgery at such a young age. I remember holding her the entire weekend before her surgery,” Tiana recalls.
While most parents might feel overwhelmed at having a child with a serious medical condition, the Chavez family wanted to help other children in need so they decided to become foster parents to a baby boy named Camden. Camden was 7 days old and was suffering from terrible drug withdrawal. Little did they know that Camden and Sevi would become best buddies, helping each other through their struggles and healing together.
“When they started getting therapy together in the home – physical, occupational and speech therapy –they started to form a bond so we adopted Cam at 18 months. He was nonverbal and Sevi was terrible at anything physical so they helped each other and motivated each other. It’s been a blessing,” Tiana explained. “They both struggled so much as children, but they had each other and an incredible bond, and they kept getting stronger together.”
Camden, now 4 years old, and Sevi, now 5 years old, continue to support each other.
Sevi’s journey has not been easy. She struggles with weakness on the right side of her body, has some trouble walking and she’s not able to use her right hand. She’s endured two surgeries – one brain surgery to have a shunt inserted to manage the excess fluid in her brain, and one eye surgery for her strabismus and stigmatism, which is not uncommon among children with hydrocephalus. According to the Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, about 80 percent of infants diagnosed with hydrocephalus have vision problems.
Despite her complications, Sevi never gives up trying.
“She has come so far and she tries to be brave in trying new things. If she can’t do something she figures out how to do it another way. She doesn’t give up. It makes me think she’s going to be OK,” Tiana says.
Sevi’s tenacity inspired Tiana to write a book about her and her little brother Camden called “Sevi’s Story.” In the book, Sevi and her little brother Cambo overcome obstacles as they go through a journey with Sevi’s special magic glasses! She hopes the book raises awareness about children with special needs and the importance of valuing them no matter what.
“Their best might not be our best but we should still count them in and give them opportunities and not be fearful of what we don’t understand and be welcoming of these type of children. People who are different are still worthy and worth getting to know,” Tiana said.
Tiana and Pete continue to foster children and reside in San Antonio, TX with their five children Sevi, Camden, Samantha, Alex, and Greyson, including three who were adopted from the foster system.