Isaac's Adoption Story
Doug and I were married in 1988, just 3 months after we graduated from college. We had dated off and on during our college years, soon became best friends, and then, much to my surprise (but not to Doug's surprise, at all, to hear his side of this tale) we fell in love. He proposed in February of our senior year and we were married in July.
We were excited to start our family and although we tried to conceive for several years, we were unable to have children naturally. After much discussion and prayer, we decided to adopt.
We investigated and communicated with several adoption agencies, only to realize that to a young couple working in the ministry, private adoption through an agency was far too expensive for us to pursue. We briefly considered a private open adoption, only to have it fail. It was heart breaking, and we decided that we would enjoy our child-free family as best we could, and we did not pursue adoption any further.
Through a series of circumstances, Doug and I made a temporary move into a home with seven children. The parents were divorced and the mom was facing serious surgery in another state. With the blessings of the grandparents and our pastor, we moved in. After that month of caring for the children, Doug and I realized we were not content with our child-free existence any longer, and we decided to pursue adoption through our state.
We attended the requisite classes with our county's Department of Children and Family, graduated with our certificate, passed our home study and waited for a call about a child who needed a home.
That phone call came in August of 2001. They told us about a little boy, named "Nicholas", 15 months old, who would soon be free for adoption. They told us that he had a few medical issues and was slightly developmentally delayed. We communicated with his foster parents who were sweet Christian grandparents; and we visited with him for the first time in September.
Honestly, his foster mom had sent me pictures of him, and I totally believed that when I saw him in those pictures that I would be overwhelmed with love for this little boy. I was not. In fact, I spent much time in tears and prayer wondering if I could love this little baby with the funny shaped head. I just wasn't sure.
However when we walked into the house and saw Isaac for the first time, it was truly "love at first sight." In fact, as we drove home, we were giddy with the emotion of it all. Our hearts had been knitted to him in that one visit. His foster parents later told us that they also knew after that visit that we were the ones to be his parents. They said he always cried when other people held him; but we both held him for long periods of time during that first visit and he was very happy with us.
In the next several weeks, we were allowed to read Nicholas’ file with the county, as well as travel with him to doctor's visits. He also faced major surgery in October of 2001, and we were able to be with him and his foster parents for that. His foster mom later told me that she thought if we were able to be "scared off" from adopting Nicholas, it would be during the time of his surgery and recovery.
It was a bit overwhelming for us, but we were already in love with this little boy and there was no way we could abandon him now.
Finally in February, his birth parents' rights were terminated by the courts, and he was free to be adopted. The courts ruled on Tuesday, and we brought him home to live with us on Friday. It was a wonderful day!
We had a few months of transition time. His foster parents kept in close contact with us during this time. It was almost "too" close, as far as we were concerned. It was very overwhelming to be first time parents, and there was even more pressure as we were followed so closely by the state, county and former foster parents. We realized, though, how important that was for Nicholas’ safety, just in case his care was going to be more than we could handle.
All went well, though, and in May, just three days after his second birthday, our adoption was finalized at the county courthouse. My parents, as well as Nicholas' foster parents, were able to be there that day. It was an incredible day.
At his adoption, the judge asked us what we would be naming our new son. We responded that we would be retaining as his middle name “Nicholas”, because it means “victorious people”. We felt that with all the medical challenges facing him, he needed to be reminded that he was victorious.
For his first name, we gave him the name "Isaac", which means "laughter". After nearly fourteen years of marriage, God had blessed our union with a son! We felt a little like Abraham and Sarah who waited so long for the child God had promised them.
Our happy little baby boy Isaac was indeed our “son of promise”!
Isaac's Medical Information
I promised, a few weeks ago, a post on Isaac's medical conditions. I'm going to try to be succinct and brief!
(Notice, I did say "try." )
Please note, too, and this post is not being written to evoke sympathy from my readers. This information is a written list or testimony, if you please, of God's goodness and mercy.
It's also a testimony to the miracle that is Isaac!
Isaac was born at 31 weeks. He weighed 2 pounds 14 ounces. He had various problems right away.
- he suffered a Grade III-IV brain bleed immediately before, during or after his birth. (in an adult, this would be called a "stroke".)
- he was positive for opiates and cocaine.
- he had hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
- he had a heart murmur.
- he had hypotension (low heart rate)
- he had kidney failure.
- he went into respiratory distress.
- he began having seizures.
- he was diagnoses failure to thrive
He was transported to a local children's hospital where they inserted a shunt in his brain for the hydrocephalus and put in a feeding tube.
Over the years he has added additional diagnoses:
- cerebral palsy
- feeding disorder
- oral aversions
- optic atrophy
- global developmental delays
- gastroesophageal reflux
- delayed gastric emptying
- intractable epilepsy
Since birth, he has had 11 other surgeries.
He takes meds for seizures, asthma and a sleep aid. He takes various supplements to aid his digestion.
He did wear glasses, but then we taught him to use his hands! He seems to see well enough to know who is around him and he certainly looks at the t.v., so we are foregoing glasses at this time.
The other issues that he had at birth either resolved themselves, or we are checked on a twice-yearly or yearly basis. For instance, they do an ultrasound once a year to check on his kidneys. We see the gastro doctor every 6 months, unless we have troubles.
We also have CAT scans or MRIs to check his shunt every year. If we have any symptoms of shunt failure, we have those tests run more often. He has needed his shunt revised twice - in 2001, shortly before we got him, and again in 2006.
Isaac is still fed via a g-tube, although for many years he did not need one. He was learning how to chew and talk a bit before his seizures became so severe that he lost those abilities.
Isaac had his first grand mal seizure (since shortly after birth) at age 5, and we have been attempting to get control of them ever since. For several years he had multiple petit mal seizures every hour. Truly, I would lose count when I tried to keep up with them just to count them.
For the past several months, his seizures have been slowing down, and we see only a few rare staring seizures each day. This is the first time in years that he is getting some relief from them. We are SO thrilled to see these changes.
We often say that if it weren't for the seizures, Isaac would be brilliant. We are excited to see how he progresses during this time of fewer seizures.
For now, Isaac does not sit, stand or walk. He is wheelchair bound and is completely dependent on his caregivers for all of his daily needs. We have a wonderful caregiver who helps us 25 hours a week. My home is cleaner than it has been in years!!! :) I don't know what we would do without Mrs. Julie!
As long as Isaac's heart, lungs and kidneys are healthy he will be doing well. If he begins to have trouble clearing his airways, we will learn new techniques and equipment to deal with that. Our main enemy is pneumonia, of course. We work hard to keep those lungs clear!
After listing all of that, I just was to say,
None of it matters.
It is just the lingo that you learn when Isaac comes into your life.
It doesn't define who he is!
He is a typical 11-year-old. He loves nothing better than LOUD noises!!! Especially when he is in a big store with his Dad (because they echo, you know!).
He loves music SO much. And Veggie Tales. And Barney. And Maisy. And sometimes Elmo. (He has to be in a mood for Elmo.)
He adores stringed instruments, particularly the banjo.
He has a wicked sense of humor, and can get tickled at the oddest times.
He used to love to sing REALLY LOUD, but since his voice has changed, he doesn't seem to like the sound of his own voice. We are encouraging him to sing more, as we really miss hearing him.
He recognizes "Jingle Bells" and "Happy Birthday" as being really fun songs.
He loves the songs "Oh, How I Love Jesus", the "B-I-B-L-E" and "Namaan."
He loves mashed potatoes and chicken and birthday cake (well...really CAKE of any kind makes him very happy!)
He likes to look at book and to be read to. He is learning to push buttons and to make choices by touching items with his hands.
He loves his Grammy and Papa, and expects to be the center of attention when they are in the room. He likes "parties", especially at Aunt Brenda's house.
He enjoys attending junior church on Sundays and sits with Ms. Robyn. She has a wonderful ministry with Isaac, and is introducing the other boys and girls to him each week. It has been an incredible blessing to be able to sit with my husband in church again, after many, many years of sitting alone.
He loves to be touched, and to touch others, just don't rub his head, please. His favorite hug is a head-butt - the harder the impact the better!
This child of mine is just that - a child.
He is not guaranteed tomorrow - and neither am I.
Neither are you.
He is with us for as long as God deems it best. And if I have my way, that will be until the trump of God sounds and we are all caught up together with Him in the clouds! (I Thessalonians 4:17)
Then we can all enjoy the last part of that verse together...
"...and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
Won't that be a glorious day?!!