Adopting Isaac

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I've always wanted a very large family. When, after 5 children and a botched c-section, the doctor told me that giving birth to another child would be too dangerous, I was heart broken.

After mourning the loss of my ability to bear another child, we turned to adoption. It was amazing how everything fell into place. We got into the PRIDE class within 2 days of inquiring when someone dropped out the day before class started.

We thoroughly enjoyed our classes and made some really good friends. The social workers teaching the classes were brutal with teasing and rude remarks about our already large family, but we won them over in the end. Then we went onto the home study and ultimately adoption approval. We didn't even put our names on the infant adoption list. We figured we'd never have a chance for a baby. We looked into older kids, especially sibling groups. The social worker of the kids we picked, wouldn't give our family the time of day, so our home study was set afloat in the system.

Soon we started getting case studies. All the children we were picked for had severe problems such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, sexual abuse, physically abusive, mental illness. We turned down sibling group after sibling group. It was heart breaking, because I wanted to help the children I read about, but could not bring children into the home that would endanger my other children.

After months of this, my discouragement level was high. I started looking into foreign adoptions but our finances weren't enough for the countries with short adoption processes (like Guatemala), and we couldn't be away from our children for a month as was is needed to adopt in places like the Ukraine. China wouldn't consider a family with 5 other children at all.

I also had to admit to myself that in my heart of hearts I really wanted a baby. My husband, sensing my need, asked our social worker to place our name on the infant adoption list at Depelchin Children's Center. We continued to accept case studies but nothing came of it.

Then one day I received a phone call. The person on the other end introduced herself as a social worker from Depelchin. This wasn't our normal social worker. I was confused. She delightedly informed me that a birth mother had picked our family to adopt her baby boy.

A voice whispered, "This is the answer to your prayers." I said YES we'd love to adopt her baby without even consulting my husband. Then she went on to tell me that the birth mother had used cocaine, and alcohol, was schizophrenic and on prescription drugs for depression and schizophrenia.

None of that fazed me. I knew this baby was sent to us from God, through this unselfish birth mother. The birth mother had liked the pictures of our large family and all our family adventures.

She said, "I want experienced parents who won't bail on my baby when the going gets rough." None of us knew just how prophetic that statement would be.

She at first wanted to meet us then changed her mind. That was OK with me, because I was scared to death to meet her. We agreed to a semi-open adoption with letters and pictures as our only contact.

Amazingly some people, even within our family, were very bitter about us getting an infant. They didn't feel that we "deserved" an infant when we already had 5 healthy, happy children. My mother-in-law's coworker put it best when she chided my mother-in-law who was complaining about it, with "this birth mother has a right to pick whom ever she wants to raise this child." We prayed for mother and baby every day.

Sometimes deep in my heart, when I prayed, I had a feeling this little guy would be different. I put those doubts out of my mind, wasn't this an answer to my prayers? We were thrilled with the news of our son's birth. We were anxious to see him but respected the birth family's need to have him to themselves for a little while.

We did not push to come see him. We were very happy when we found out the mother decided to leave the hospital early and gave permission for us to come visit the baby at the hospital. I called my husband at work, and he met my mother and I at the hospital. There he was, our son. Here was this miracle in my arms. It was love at first sight. I couldn't have loved him more if I had been the one that carried him for 9 months. I could hardly bare to leave him and go home.

The next day, we were informed there was a slight abnormality with his brain. The OB doctor had seen it in a prenatal ultrasound. The small country hospital did not have the equipment to do a CAT scan, so they did an ultrasound of his head. The space between his skull and his brain was too large. The doctors at the small country hospital could not explain it. He appeared to be perfectly healthy with APGAR scores of 9 & 9.

The adoption agency started talking about putting him into foster care until he could be evaluated by a neurologist at Texas Children's hospital. I was panicking. We convinced the agency to let us take him home. We promised to take him to TCH as soon as we could get him in (4 months was the soonest we could get an appointment for).

Nothing appeared to be wrong with him until at about 1 weeks old he suddenly forgot how to swallow. His pediatrician sent us directly to TCH where a CAT scan revealed lissencephaly meaning smooth brain.

My husband had been in Europe and came straight to the hospital from the airport. The neurologist was completely unhelpful. When bombarded with my questionings, he replied, "Let's just put it this way, your child will never be normal."

My premonitions had been correct. Raising Isaac would not be the same as the other children.

During the hospital stay our son remembered how to swallow again so they let us go home. We left the hospital knowing little and didn't have time to worry about it with my in-laws visiting from out of state.

After all the hustle and bustle settled down, I started to research lissencephaly on the internet. What I found there tore me apart: expect a shortened life span, severe retardation, and many many medical problems. I was devastated. I cried for days.

When the adoption agency found out, they offered to terminate the adoption. Not on your life; I didn't consider it for a second. This was our son; we wouldn't throw him away because he wasn't perfect. He did quite well for the first 4 months of his life. He even smiled.

Then, during the end of April, the infantile spasm seizures started. They increased in duration and intensity. The medicine prescribed did nothing to alleviate the seizures. The seizures stole his smile, his ability to move and his ability to swallow.

The judge, hearing about Isaac at the parental rights termination hearing, waived the 6 month adoption waiting period required in Texas, thus opening the way for his immediate adoption into our family. He ended up in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia and subsequently got a permanent feeding tube placed in his stomach.

The seizures continued to wrack his body. There were times we didn't know if he would make it. Then in September, my husband was able to acquire a non FDA approved drug in Europe that almost completely controlled the seizures.

Isaac's quality of life has improved immensely. Isaac just celebrated his first birthday. He continues to be plagued by seizures, but they are no longer life threatening. He functions on less than a new born level. He has never regained his smile or ability to use or control his limbs. He has partial vision loss. He does not eat by mouth. His neurologist believes his condition is hereditary and not caused by the birth mother's drug use.

We continue to send letters and pictures to his birth family. I have nothing but love and respect for them. I am forever grateful that his birth mother entrusted him to our family.

His 5 siblings adore, love and protect him. His father dotes on him. I have been through h--- and back with him, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love him with every fiber of my being.

Credits: Jori

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