How Long Lord?
I read a blog post by a dear friend yesterday. It was a heartfelt post about the overwhelming task of parenting two boys with extremely challenging medical special needs. My Love and I met this couple through adoption. It’s interesting to see how God intertwines people’s lives. The first boy they adopted was a little boy that I first “met” through another family. This family had traveled to China to adopt a little girl born with bladder exstrophy. While there, they met a woman who had started a healing home for kids with medical needs. She had a little boy there, also born with bladder exstrophy, who was only months old and in really critical condition. My friend wanted to adopt him too, she asked all her friends to pray for TY, so my husband and I began to pray for his health and healing so he could be listed for international adoption. The Lord was faithful to hear the prayers of people around the world for this little boy. The foster home got permission to bring him to Johns Hopkins here in the US where he had a life changing (at that time) surgery. He was listed for international adoption. My friend who originally wanted to adopted him contacted me and said they felt they could not pursue him. They discerned that he was not meant to be their child. It was disappointing but at the same time, those of us of faith know that sometimes our role in God’s plan is not the one we originally thought we were to play. Her role was to bring gather up an army of prayer warriors for baby TY, and she did.
A few months later, we began pursuing the adoption of our daughter. We thought she was in an orphanage. Then we were told she was in a medical foster home in another part of the country. The name sounded familiar, where had I heard that before? Then I looked it up on the internet and saw baby TY, yet he was no longer a baby. He was a toddler and he was being adopted by an American couple. My daughter and he were friends. I have pictures of the two of them together. His mother and I were put in contact with each other and I shared with her how My Love and I had prayed for her son. The journey of our friendship had begun.
My husband and I traveled to adopt our daughter about six months after they adopted their son. There were two older boys in the foster home that they had met and we were interested in showing some love toward. We spent a whole Saturday afternoon with the boys. We’d brought presents, they showed us artwork, tried to teach us how to pray the Our Father in Mandarin, and in general had a blast. (as a side note, we met our youngest son that day, he was a third boy in the room always at the periphery, always watching, always wanting to be a part of the action, but too afraid to come close.) The oldest boy was born with a condition called “Arthrogryposis,” a condition that affects muscles and joints. Because he was not treated at a younger age, he was not able to walk. He had a wheel chair but he didn’t use it much. FX had mastered the art of getting around by rolling and pulling himself. With his hands, stiff and claw-like, he learned to paint and play the violin. He was a determined boy and a survivor. At the time we met him, he was about 9 yrs old. Too old to be adopted many thought, yet the foster home got his paperwork ready for adoption. They knew his best chance to have the kind of life they wanted for him, was to be adopted by a couple who would show him the love of a mother and father. We came home and we prayed for those two older boys. We advocated on our blog. Then I got a call from my friend, TY’s mom. They too had me FX and spent time with him. They had fallen in love with this boy who had beat every odd against him. They prayed and prayed and wondered and crunched numbers to see how they could make it work. They felt God wanted them to move forward to adopt him.
When they first arrived home, they consulted with a doctor who had evaluated FX several times while the doctor was in China on medical mission trips. He said that FX would never walk. They sought another opinion and ended up with a doctor at Shriner’s in Philadelphia, who specialized in FX’s condition. Long story short: FX walks with a walker now and is working hard toward getting to crutches. He still thinks one day he will walk unassisted. He is one determined young man. In the meantime, TY has surpassed all expectations. On the one hand, they have had several medical crises due to his having a colostomy. On the other hand, his body has healed and developed so well that he recently had the first surgery in the process to reverse the colostomy. This is truly a dream they hadn’t dared to hope for when they adopted him five years ago.
The elephant in the room with all these medical miracles is that it’s been financially devastating for them as a couple. They have to travel from their home in Tennessee to Baltimore for TY’s procedures, and to Philadelphia for FX’s procedures. The last two summers they have spent the entire summer away from home helping their sons recover or rehabilitate after surgeries. Expenses, expenses, and more expenses, and on only one income. They have a wonderful faith community who has stepped in and helped them in innumerable ways, but it gets hard to have to continue to accept help from others. Some, not their friends or family, but acquaintances either say or imply “well, you are the ones who chose to adopt two boys with severe special needs…” I’ve heard that too with regard to my four children. It’s a cruel statement to make to a couple who have only done what they felt the Lord would have them do. And He has been faithful to provide for their immediate needs, and so they have faith He will take care of the growing mountain of medical bills. They wrestle daily with the decision of how much more do they pursue. Do they stop now (except TY who will have his colostomy reversed) and say “Well, this is more than we ever could have dreamed for our boys?” Or, do they continue to take this window of opportunity in their sons’ development to go as far as possible in their treatment. Mama and Baba (Dad) are weary. They are overwhelmed by the financial burden yet they know that the Lord will provide (and has in the form of side jobs). They naturally ask the question, “How much longer Lord?” It is a question I ask myself almost daily. How much longer Lord will I feel the stress and pressure of raising four children with medical needs (albeit less severe than FX and TY) and raising them on my own? How much longer Lord until life settles down and I can coast a bit? How much longer Lord…? Yet, when I ask the question, the answer in my heart is always, “My grace is sufficient for today, don’t worry about tomorrow.” Grace, sufficient for the day is all we are promised. I know this. My friends know this. It is enough to keep moving forward, step by step, one day at a time.
~ The Reluctant Widow