• Shock and Awe

    Date: 2016.02.10 | Category: Codey, Family Life | Tags:

    Dan and I have often discussed the differences in having a biological child who has a disability or illness and adopting a child that does.

    With Codey and Kyle, I spent most of the first year in shock.  Watching your child take their last breath as you hold them in your arms will do that to you.  And there is nothing like standing there with the ground open and your husband carrying a little white casket to that hole in the ground, to change your life.  It will rip your heart right out of your chest and you will wonder how you will ever make it through another day.


    As the days in the hospital turned into weeks, and weeks into months which lead to over a year, dreams slowly faded away.  I went through times of sadness and mourning over all Codey wouldn’t do.  Just when I would think I had a handle on my feelings, another milestone would come up and my heart would break again. At one, he couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and was still in the hospital.  We celebrated there in his ICU room with a cake and family and a news crew filmed it all.

    When he turned five, I mourned the fact that he wouldn’t go to kindergarten.  I mourned that he wouldn’t make friends and go to birthday parties.  I cried tears over the steps he would never take and the games he would never play.

    As time went by, I settled into a routine.  Life seemed normal and then another milestone would remind me that life was anything but normal.  When he turned fourteen, it was not being able to get a permit.  Sixteen was the driver’s license and dating.  Eighteen was graduation.  Then there was not going to college, not getting married, not having children of his own.

    Codey would always be a little boy in a man’s body.  The pain wasn’t over what his life was.  Codey is, for the most part, a very happy boy.  He has a family that loves him.  He has his room and his toys that he loves.  He enjoys football and basketball games.  He has changed everything about who I am and how I see the world.

    My pain was not over what Codey couldn’t do, I knew before he turned five that he would never do these things.  My pain was mostly because I still had these dreams in my head of what it was supposed to be like.  I was supposed to have two little, blonde haired boys.  They were supposed to be best friends.  They were supposed to play football and baseball and cause messes.   They were supposed to run together in the backyard and bring in critters that would make me scream.  They were supposed to grow up and have families of their own.

    Sometime during that first year or so, I received a poem about Holland written by Emily Perl Kingsley.  I remember the first time I read that poem and I thought, “Well, isn’t that nice.  I’m just supposed to be happy about Holland.  Well, I’ll get right on that.”   (Insert sarcasm here!)  It wasn’t that easy.   I had dreams and hopes and plans and none of them included a trip to Holland, but as time went on I realized they were right.  I had to quit mourning Italy and keep my eyes on the beauty of Holland.  The shock of not being in Italy slowly wore off and the awe over the beauty of Holland slowly emerged.

    So what had changed? Codey didn’t change.  Our circumstances hadn’t changed.  We were still broke and Codey was still not going to do what I had dreamed he would.  So what was it?  It was me.  It was my heart.  I was no longer bitter and angry over what I felt had been taken from me; instead, I decided to be thankful for all that had been given to me.  The glass is the same whether I see it as half empty or half full.  The glass never changed, but I had.

    Which brings us to adopting special needs children.  When you know what the cognitive, physical disability, or illness is and you choose it, you know right away that this is the way it is going to be.  You buy books to educate yourself.  You find a support network.  You don’t have to go through that mourning period where nothing is what you had dreamed.  You actually purchased the ticket to go directly to Holland.  You weren’t expecting a different destination.  You are right where you were chose to be.  You can get off that plane and actually be excited to have your feet land on the ground in Holland.

    I can say that I have learned to love the slower paced life of Holland.  I have learned to appreciate and stand in awe of all that our children do.  All those normal daily things that are so easy to just take for granted.   I found myself actually celebrating the little things like holding a spoon in your hand for the first time, the ability to run and play, the first word spoken even if it is at three years of age.  Being able to put a shirt on by themselves.  Being able to write their name.  Living past their first, second, and third birthday.  .

    These are things to be celebrated.  I learned that just because these are things we take for granted, they are NOT little things. A child’s smile, a child’s hug, a first step, these aren’t things to be overlooked or expected, these are things to be celebrated!  A child’s worth isn’t based on what they can accomplish.

    If we instead measure a life by lives and hearts changed, then our children’s worth is immeasurable.  Dan and my heart have been forever changed.  Our eyes have been opened to what matters.  Time has slowed down.  I don’t rush to and through things.  I try to walk and enjoy the journey.  I’m not worried about trivial things.  I appreciate the little things, the joys we miss while we are busy waiting for that thing that will make us happy – school done, the perfect vacation, getting married, finding the right career, retirement.  I have learned to not wish my life away waiting for something to make me happy.  You learn pretty quickly not to wish days away when you aren’t sure there will be another one.

    The truth is there are many other things that Codey will never do.  He won’t lie.  He won’t cheat.  He won’t judge you for the things you say or do.  He won’t make you feel less than.  How many of us can say that?  How many of us can say our words have never hurt another person?

    Elsberry _70 Crop

    You can say I have on rose colored glasses or a PollyAnna attitude, I won’t take offense because, the truth is, I do.  I choose to be happy.  I choose to enjoy my children’s lives.  I choose to wake up thankful that I get to do it all again – the monotony, the diaper changes, the g-tube feedings, the teaching the same thing over and over again, all of it.  Every day is a choice.  For the longest time, I refused to be happy in this place I found myself and now I thank God daily that this is where my life took me.

    Every day I wake up to the most beautiful, joy-filled faces and I know, beyond any doubt, that I am blessed.  I am in awe of this life I get to live.  I am in awe of these little souls that I have been entrusted with.

    A life of worth isn’t measured in the money made, the titles held, or what you take; a life of worth is measured in the lives you touch, the love you give, and the difference you make.