Deyvi counts happiest days

Deyvi Wilton, 12, who was adopted from Bolivia.
Deyvi Wilton, 12, who was adopted from Bolivia.

When Hayley Wilton met Deyvi, he stopped in the midst of performing cartwheels at his Bolivian orphanage to ask: Do you love me now?

The 4-year-old, who was rescued from walking the streets alone, formed a bond with the Kiwi woman and seven years later - in June - was able to be brought to his new Christchurch home.

Deyvi's rural orphanage did not have computers but his New Zealand-themed artwork will next year adorn the words of the most-used internet search engine after winning the national Doodle 4 Google competition through his school. The award, which includes his design going online for a day early next year, was his second happiest experience.

"The day my [adoptive] mother came and took me from the orphanage was the happiest day.

"I felt that someone loves me."

The 12-year-old's Papanui Primary School teacher, Kerrie Stedman, said his classmates were always wide-eyed listening to his experiences. The "fantastic" boy's enthusiasm overflowed so much that he would run in every morning yelling, "I love school", and "I love New Zealand".

Wilton said Deyvi's life had been full of "miracles", including how they met.

At 6 years old, Wilton swore her life goal was to adopt children.

At 16, she chose Bolivia for an exchange trip, "because it was one of the poorest" countries.

She then trained as a nurse and teacher after an aid worker told her it was the best way to help.

She returned to work in Bolivia's orphanages in 2006.

A year later she began the four-year process of getting residency in order to adopt Deyvi and bring him home to New Zealand.

"I didn't want to leave Deyvi behind, so I worked there.

"I felt like he'd been abandoned before and I could not abandon him again."

Wilton's mum, Helen, who spends a lot of time answering her "curious" grandson's questions, witnessed many other children at the orphanage hungry for affection before she met Deyvi.

"It's a bit like falling in love," she said. "You can't control it, it happens and that's the one."

The gentle, caring, artistic and football-loving boy used to tag along with Wilton to art school, where she met her Bolivian partner and father of her 2-year old and 10-month-old.

It was great to see him excelling and having space to play, Wilton said.

"In South America he felt it was quite a struggle to go to school.

"Now he's actually really enjoying school and is happy being himself.

"It was really special to be able to bring Deyvi here."

Every Waitangi Day, the date he first went to live with Wilton, they will celebrate his adoption, remember his Bolivian background, and light candles for each of the family members he remembers.

The Press