Guest post by Carey Thurman, who today during Pinellas County National Adoption Celebration adopted a two-year-old foster child with Spina Bifida.
Our first medical foster child was a little girl with Spina Bifida. So when SunCoast Center Inc. called us about Joey, an almost 1-month-old boy with the same condition, we were excited to take him in as a foster child. When I arrived at the hospital he weighed only 6 lbs, his legs would not lay down flat and were permanently fixed straight in the air. One of his club feet was so bad it was almost C-shaped, and this was only a couple of the problems this precious little boy suffered from since his birth. His bottom was bleeding from having constant bowl movements caused by his condition; his legs were just skin and bone … no fat or muscle. The doctor told us he would most likely break his legs within the first two years of his young life. It broke our hearts knowing he had spent the early weeks of his life getting surgery to close his back. And the worst part, he had no family there for him, he was all alone.
We were determined to make that up to him. Since that time, he has been through five more surgeries, but thankfully from that point on, my husband Mike or I have always been able to be by his side to comfort him and give him our full support. We have showered him with love and we couldn’t possibly put into words the joy he brings our family. We thought our family was complete, but then Joey stole our hearts.
We believed we were done adopting since we had adopted three children and had two of our own already. And the fact that we are both in our 40s was a bit intimidating; our youngest is already 11. But as we started meeting families as part of the process to find Joey an adoptive family we were struggling with the decision we were about to make. The week before they were to have the final match meetings and make a choice, Mike and I went to dinner together and started talking and came to the conclusion that we wanted to adopt Joey. We simply couldn’t let him go. Needless to say, the kids were very excited that we would be adding Joey to our forever family. We know he is going to do amazing things and we want to be a part of that and be there for him.
He has made leaps and bounds since the day I picked him up from the hospital. He is now at a normal weight, has chubby legs and his legs no longer stick out. He crawls and scoots to get around and he is a wiz with his wheelchair, we call it his “zroom zroom.” He is all boy and loves to play with his trains and cars. He has a sense of humor and loves to make us laugh.
Our home has all kinds of equipment. A stepping platform sits in front of the couch that he uses to come snuggle with us, diaper changing takes more time and has to be done more often, he sometimes uses a wheelchair, he has therapists in the home and many different specialists. He will most likely have more surgeries and we don’t know how well he will walk or for how long. But at the end of the day he is Joey, the little boy who points out every truck, car, and school bus everywhere we drive, throws 2-year-old tantrums when he doesn’t get his way and gives the best snuggles. His giggles melt our hearts. When we look at him we see our little boy who we have big dreams for, not a handicapped child.
At his last court hearing the judge thanked us for stepping up and adopting him. We are the ones that are thankful to have the honor of being his dad, mom, sister and brother. The reward involved with our decision has surpassed anything we could have ever imagined possible. And we are truly thankful to our church and friends, as well as family members who have and continue to support us.
It is astounding the limitless boundaries to which children with medical conditions can gain by simply living in a home where they receive unfailing love and attention from parents and siblings. Adoptive parents can be taught to take care of their medical needs and with time they become routine. These wonderful children need parents that are willing to love them and see their full potential.
For more information about adoption and children available for adoption in Florida, visit www.adoptflorida.org or call 1-800-962-3678.