Surprises – people don’t always love them. For those out there who like being in control of things, being surprised is their worst nightmare. However, there are plenty of people who love being caught off guard, especially if it’s for a good reason. Ivey Zezulka is definitely one of them. The little girl never expected her life to change when her foster parents sat her down on her tenth birthday. However, as they handed over her final present and watched her open it, she realized nothing would be the same again.
That one special present
There was one present that Ivey Zezulka desperately wanted for her birthday. Every year, she hoped for it, but it was never there amongst the rest of her gifts.
For the longest time, Ivey thought that she’d go her whole life without ever getting it, but then she turned ten. It was the best birthday she’d ever had, but it was the final present that was the icing on the cake. When she opened up the box and saw what was inside, she knew all her dreams were about to come true.
Becoming foster parents
The special gift was given to her by Daniel and Paige Zezulka. The married couple was the girl’s foster parents, although things didn’t start out that way.
Daniel and Paige first decided to get involved with the system as a way to bring light to a child’s life. Fostering is never a permanent thing, and after a while, the kid(s) in someone’s care finds their way to a forever home. The Zezulkas knew the risk of getting attached to one of their charges, but they felt it was worth it.
Opening up their home
When they started out as foster parents, they were given the responsibility of caring for little Kai. The boy was only five months old and needed a stable home while problems with his birth parents could be addressed.
It was a big task for them to take on, but the Zezulkas were prepared to do whatever it took to give Kai a happy start in life. When they were asked to look after the boy, the foster parents didn’t know much about his family life. However, they soon discovered something startling.
After caring for Kai for a little while, they were amazed to find that the young boy had a sister. Her name was Ivey, and she lived with another foster couple, meaning the two siblings couldn’t spend any time together.
The Zezulkas felt this wasn’t right and believed that the two should be united, even if they didn’t live in the same house. Keeping the brother and sister apart was depriving them of a chance to be with their family, especially as they were already separated from their birth parents.
With that in mind, the couple organized play dates between Kai and Ivey. The more time the kids spent together, the happier they seemed to be.
Plus, the Zezulkas found they got along well with Ivey’s foster parents, giving them more of a reason to meet up regularly. Although the siblings couldn’t just see each other whenever they wanted, the Zezulkas made sure to reunite them at every opportunity. However, the couple soon found that all of these meetings were having an unexpected effect on them.
A growing attraction
The last thing that Daniel and Paige had anticipated from their play dates was how much they would fall for Ivey. In the first moment they met her, they realized the little girl was truly special, and each meeting reaffirmed their feelings.
Not only was reuniting her with Kai bringing the child a lot of joy, but it was doing the same thing for the Zezulkas too. The more time they spent with Ivey, the harder it became to say goodbye to her. What were they going to do?
Counting down the days
As much as the couple cared deeply for Ivey, as well as her brother, they knew they couldn’t be foster parents forever. From the moment they welcomed the five-month-old into their house, the Zezulkas were waiting for the day when he’d be taken from them.
There was always the intention for Kai to be returned to his birth family once it was suitable to do so, it was just a matter of when that would be. Living with so much uncertainty was hard, but they had no other option.
Not going to happen
However, no matter how long they waited, there never seemed to be any sign that Kai would return to his birth parents. The couple wanted to reunite the child with his family, but it became more and more unlikely that that would ever happen.
Eventually, the Zezulkas were told with almost absolute certainty that there was no going back for Kai. Returning him to his birth parents simply wasn’t going to happen, meaning they’d need to find another suitable home for him to grow up in.
Building up the family
Around a similar time, Daniel and Paige were delivered some even more surprising news. Although his birth parents couldn’t raise Kai, that hadn’t stopped the couple them from having another child. They gave birth to Lita who was put into the system at just two days old.
With the Zezulkas already proving themselves as capable foster parents for her brother, they were asked if they wanted to take on another charge. It was Paige who received the phone call, and she agreed to it before she’d even spoken to her husband.
Back together again
With Lita becoming part of the Zezulka’s family, their unit was almost complete. However, there was one piece missing – Ivey.
Keeping her away from her siblings didn’t seem right, especially with Daniel and Paige so open to looking after her too. So, it was agreed that Ivey would move in with the couple and they’d all be one happy, temporary family. The Zezulkas did everything they could to make the girl feel welcome, from painting her room pink to treating her like a princess, and it paid off.
An unbreakable bond
Within days of moving in with her siblings, Ivey was on top of the world. She wasted no time asking the Zezulkas if she could call them mom and dad, a request that certainly touched the couple’s hearts.
Not long after, she also told them she wanted to stay with them forever. Being foster parents to Kai had already been rewarding enough, but they’d never have imagined how much they’d come to love their little family unit. It pushed Daniel and Paige to do something they’d considered for a while.
They decided to reveal their plan to Ivey on her tenth birthday. Getting to celebrate the day as part of a stable family had already made it her best birthday yet, but there was still one more surprise waiting for her.
The girl was inundated with gifts from her foster parents, and the Zezulkas saved the best for last. They set up their phone to record everything and waited as Ivey took her time to open the box. Anticipation and excitement were in the air as she revealed her final present.
Tears of joy
The box was filled with tissue paper that Ivey had to remove to get to her gift. However, the wait was worth it. What she discovered at the bottom of a box was a framed note, and the words on the paper reduced her to tears.
“I’m going to be adopted” she read out loud before covering her mouth and screwing her eyes up. The emotion hit her in an instant, and she couldn’t help but cry as the words sunk in. Those years of searching for a family were finally over.
Never letting go
Ivey wasn’t the only one in a fit of tears because of the note. When she started crying, Daniel and Paige both welled up and rose from their chairs to embrace their new daughter.
They’d brought Ivey into their home believing they were going to lose her one day, but now the three of them never had to be separated. “We love you, sweetheart,” Ivey’s new father told her as he held her close; “We’ll always be your parents.” It wasn’t just her that was getting the good news, though.
Too much to process
Through her tears, Paige told Ivey that she wasn’t the only one they’d be adopting. Both Kai and Lita would also officially become their children, meaning the family unit they’d formed would never have to split up.
Naturally, Ivey was overjoyed by the news that she’d get to grow up with her siblings. However, at that moment, she was too emotional to take it all in. She was still trying to process that she’d never have to move house again – she finally had a real family that wasn’t going anywhere.
A life of uncertainty
The news she was getting adopted was a massive relief for Ivey. She’d been in foster care for 1,128 days – more than three years – and it put her through a lot of stress.
Moving from one place to another made it difficult for the child to ever settle down. She was afraid to make friends and get comfortable because there was every chance she’d return home one day to find that everything had changed. Not anymore though. Becoming a Zezulka was going to stop that from ever happening again.
Getting adopted by Daniel and Paige was also a huge comfort because Ivey wasn’t getting any younger. The older a child is, the harder it is for them to find a home because they’re perceived to be damaged by their difficult life.
Babies and toddlers aren’t aware of what they’ve gone through, so being adopted doesn’t impact their childhood. The Zezulkas didn’t care about any of that though. They’d loved Ivey from the moment they met her, and the thought of letting her go never entered their minds.
Patience is a virtue
The adoption was completed on 23 August 2018, but it was several years in the making. The Zezulkas were first approached about adopting the children in 2016, back when Ivey was first moving in with the couple.
However, they didn’t want to get the kids hopes up by announcing the news before things were set in motion. There was every chance the adoption would fall through, and the thought of having to tell Ivey and her siblings that things hadn’t worked out was too heartbreaking to consider.
Although Ivey, Kai, and Lita are now officially the Zezulkas children, that doesn’t mean the kids don’t love their birth parents. The younger two might not really know who they are, but Ivey was with them for several years before ending up in foster care.
Both she and the Zezulkas have a lot of affection for the couple, but things just weren’t going to work out for them as parents. It’s better that they have their distance while Daniel and Paige take control of raising their three kids.
Enjoying their fame
After the video of Ivey’s emotional reaction hit the internet, it wasn’t long before it became a hit with people around the world. Millions watched as the child cried her eyes out over the discovery she was going to be adopted.
Many of them struggled not to get teary themselves as the display of unconditional love played out on their screens. The Zezulkas are more than aware of how popular the video’s become, with Paige admitting that Ivey has been making the most of her newfound fame.
Family of five
Now that the papers are signed, and everything’s been verified, the Zezulkas can enjoy their new life with their three kids.
Although things aren’t much different considering they’d already been looking after Ivey, Kai, and Lita for two years before the adoption was official, their lives are now far less stressful. They can make the most of every moment without the fear that each day together might be their last. The Zezulkas are now a family of five, and it’s going to stay that way for a very long time.