I am inadequate to write this post. I have thought over it, prayed over it, dreamed of sharing it, and cried over it, but I still come here not knowing what to write. In writing this story of my son, I so desire for all of the glory and credit to go to my great God. I pray that his fame is renowned, and that Jim and I, and even our precious brown eyed boy, would fade into the background. We are just supporting characters in this story – the starring role was long ago reserved for my God, my Savior. For this is ultimately and completely His story, and I hold it loosely knowing who really holds the pen. I could never fully tell all that God has done to orchestrate getting Jamesy into our family. There is no way that my finite mind can begin to even comprehend, in order to tell, the supernatural way that God joined our family together through this amazing, wonderful, painful, beautiful, humbling journey of adoption.
Please know that this is only a part of Jamesy’s story. This is the part that we feel led to share. The other part is reserved for Jamesy alone to share someday if he feels so led. We have very little to give him of his past, and would like to keep what we can sacred for him.We chose this road of adoption -which was a big step for both of us a step of faith and some private, personal growth steps as well – for very unique reasons for both of us. But even after choosing this and obeying the Holy Spirit’s prompting in this area of adoption and orphan care, we put our own human parameters on the kind of orphan that we thought God would choose for our family. We both felt very strongly about a boy. (I have the most tender spot in my heart for boys. I always wanted a son, and the thought of having two just excited me to no end! Not that this diminishes my love for my Cadi at all.) We also decided, without honestly much prayer, that God had a healthy infant boy for us. We knew any international adoption was risky, adoption in general is challenging and even hard, and we surely knew that God would not require more from us.God began breaking my heart in a way that I could not fathom. He was growing me at exponential rates, like never before in my walk with Him. He was releasing us from our bondage of materialism and the American dream – a bondage we had not even known we were under. I was beginning to think that I was reaching a pivotal point in what God had to teach me through our adoption. And then God yanked the rug out from under me. I have shared this next bit in a previous blog post, but now I will add all of the details that I was not at liberty to publicly share until now.
It happened on a Thursday. It was mid afternoon, Cadi and Scotty were napping, my house was clean, we were having dinner at a friends’ home and I had nothing to prepare, so I hopped on the computer and logged into AWAA’s yahoo group. I scrolled through the newest messages. I saw once again someone mention the Waiting Child List. People had been mentioning it all week, praying that by the time Court reopened in Ethiopia (it closes for a month during Ethiopia’s rainy season every year) the list could be cleared out. I remember thinking how great that would be, and how special those people were to be able to accept one of these children into their home. The list is full of children who have special needs – sometimes the special need is simply that the child is older and less likely to be adopted because there are very few requests for older children compared to the families requesting infants. Others of the children have varying degrees of special needs. I finally felt curious about this list. I wanted to join in praying for these children, but I needed to put faces to them. I requested the password and entered the site. Little did I know that this decision would change the course of our lives forever.
What sweet, beautiful children popped up on the screen. I slowly scrolled through them reading the little description written about each one and then quickly praying for the child and his or her forever family. That they would be united quickly, and that these children could be removed from the list. I then scrolled to the very last child. My heart kind of skipped a beat and I felt a gentle tug because the child was an infant and a boy, and then I read his description. I knew that God would never call us to that special need, though, I clearly remember thinking and feeling relief wash over me. That would be too hard, and we had already requested a healthy baby boy and were nearly done with our home study based on that request. Phew, off of the hook.
Then I opened his picture.
I do not know how to describe what happened next without sounding like a crazy person. In that moment I was living so outside my character that I am still overwhelmed and humbled with what happened next.
Immediately upon the photo popping up on my screen I burst into sobs, deep gut-wrenching, shoulder shaking, ugly sobs. Because I knew that he was my son. The only thing I can liken it to is having Scotty laid on my chest after birth (I say Scotty because this did not happen with Cadi due to her traumatic birth), locking eyes with him and knowing that he belonged with me. It was the exact same thing with this baby on my screen. He belonged with us! I was simultaneously filled with peace and fear. Peace, because I knew in my heart of hearts that he was indeed the child that God had ordained to be in our family. Fear because of what that meant God was asking this cowardly, shy, not confident girl to do.
He was aking me in that moment to say yes to this 7 month old baby boy that had been diagnosed as bilaterally blind and severely, chronically malnourished. Surely this cannot mean he is completely blind I thought. I quickly pulled up google and my heart sank as I realized that is exactly what it meant.
Really, God? A blind child? How do we do that?
I then googled the ramfications of chronic malnourishment and my stomach twisted as I learned of the severe delays and retardation it could (but not always – I tend to be a realist.) mean. I then began to fear what Jim would think and how I could tell him that this boy was who God meant for us to adopt.
But my love for this boy and the knowing that he was my son was instantaneous and that overshadowed everything at the moment. At some point Jim needs to share his side of the story. He battled it out with God, but the outcome was beautiful -obviously – look where we are today! Soon after that day, we both came to the same conclusion about this boy, we notified our agency, received his referral, and accepted it. I would love to say that it has been an easy road since then, that I was never plagued with doubts about the ramifications of our decision. But I cannot say that. There were days when Satan had a hay-day in my mind playing up every fear imaginable. There were nights where I laid in bed and tried to imagine how we were really going to do this with a blind child. I read several books on raising children with visual impairments, but they just made me fear. I pictured my son walking down the road with a walking stick. I feared not being able to learn Braille, not being adequate to homeschool him like our other children. It was a silent, private battle everyday for a long time. I was not batteling loving Jamesy, but to accept that our story was not ending exactly how we had thought.
Then special people in our life started telling us that they were praying for Jamesy’s eyes. I thought that was weird at first. He’s blind afterall, end of story. Surely the Jesus of the Bible would not still heal the blind. Or would He? God convicted my heart of stone, and I started to pray as well. I prayed that he would at least be able to make out the shapes of the faces of his family. I prayed fervently – somedays with great faith and somedays with barely any. I drilled every family that I could from our agency that went to the Transition Home for their court date or embassy trip. I pleaded with them to tell me about his eyes. At first it looked bleak. It seemed as if God had truly destined for us to raise a blind child. I kept reading things about how God still heals today through the power of prayer. Jim and I prayed together for Jamesy, and Cadi began to join in. Soon the reports were different.
Your son seems to be able to see light.
Your son cannot focus on my face, but he is trying too.
Your son follows shapes with his eyes.
During this time we also received news that Jamesy’s eyes would shake, and that he seemed to have little control of them. I began researching this, and came to the uneducated conclusion that he has nystagmus. I very soon after found out that a very dear bloggy friend has this same condition. She gave me great, great hope, watched a video of Jamesy’s eyes that we had received, and agreed that she thought he has nystagmus – which is NOT blindness. In the meantime Jamesy kept gaining weight and growing as he was on nutritional rehabilitation. He was also right on track with his developmental progress – sometimes even ahead of where our other two children were at his age!
We set out for Ethiopia not knowing exactly what to expect. We found our son to certainly have some visual impairments that we will be getting help for, but we found him to NOT. BE. BLIND. Not at all. Although, at first, we were discouaraged to find that he could not seem to focus on our face or make eye contact with us. But we taught him to high five, he would catch bubbles, and grab our sunglasses – all impossible for a child with his diagnosis!
Then on our fourth day with him God gave me the amazing, unforgettable, life-changing gift of locking eyes with my son for 30 seconds as I fed him a bottle! He saw my face! He looked into my eyes and held my gaze. This all from a child who we were told would never see.
We will never know all that God has done in Jamesy’s eyes, but we know that he has done a healing work. We know that it is not a case of him simply being misdiagnosed. When we were in Ethiopia we were told that when Jamesy was brought into the Transition Home in July he was BLIND. Then slowly over the course of the months he has been there he has gained more and more sight!
Our son once was blind but now he SEES! God is still in the process of teaching me a lot through this. I will never understand this side of eternity why God is allowing me this blessing of being Jamesy’s mommy. Did God allow Jamesy to be blind in order to bring him out of his orphanage and into the Transition Home? Or was it so that he would land on the Waiting Child List and be seen by us? Or was God testing us to see if we were willing to do whatever He asked? I believe the answer is yes to at least some of those, but I will never truly know until I meet my Jesus face to face. And it doesn’t matter why.
We still do not know exactly what the future holds for our Jamesy, but we know God is working mightily in his life, in our life, and in those who have heard his story. God has big plans for Jamesy – that much I know!
Whatever the reason, I am abundantly thankful that God has brought our sweet Jamesy into our family forever! God has changed us because of this story.
I once was lost, but now am found.
I once was blind, but now I see!
God, in his creative sovereignty used a precious, blind, brown-eyed boy to remove my blindness!
All praise and glory to Him. I am completely unworthy of His Amazing Grace!