Friday, May 2, 2014

2 years already! Gotcha Day and an Unexpected Journey

Two years ago today we met our beautful sons.

We were so excited and the future was wide before us. We were new adoptive parents, new to navigating special needs and boys! The last two years have been full of joy, learning, advocacy, and also lots of tears and frustrations. Oh, how the Lord has grown each one of us, molded us, refined us and He is still doing so today in ways we would have never known had we not said yes to these two precious treasures.

The Bible tells us children a gift from God. And they are--each and every one.

1 Samuel 1:26-26 says "[Hannah to the Priest Eli] As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." (NIV)

Specifically over the last year, we have seen Jansen make remarkable progress in all areas, especially academics and speech. He loves to help others, is always quick to give verbal praise, and is happiest when outside playing with friends or family.

In addition to Luke's special needs of profound bilateral hearing loss and global development delay, over the last year, he has also been diagnosed with Usher Syndrome (deaf-blindness) and Autism Spectrum Disorder. This boy's giggles are contagious. He overflows with joy. His eye contact has improved dramatically, as well as his listening skills thanks to countless audio verbal therapy sessions and cochlear implant technology. He is now really catching on to sign language and has more than 10 signs he uses regularly. We are excited to see what God has in store for this precious puzzle who has stolen our hearts!

I will leave you with the following story that portrays our family's adventure, as well as many others.

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this…

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean, Holland?" I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

Written by Emily Perl Kingsley