This was a hard one to sit down and write. I didn’t want to, but I feel like every time I don’t want to write, it means I really should and almost every time, one of you reaches out and says there was something there you needed to hear…so here goes. (PS- it’s a long one…sorry!)
When we felt like the Lord was saying it was finally time for us to start the adoption process, we both agreed that we had been through so much with Judah and had jumped so many hurdles of fear with his special needs, that we would specifically pursue a child with either a limb anomaly, a cardiac defect, or both…since that’s what we were used to after all! And the search began.
October 22, 2013 was the day we got a phone call from our adoption agency…it was the call. The call every adoptive family waits for to say there’s a child or a baby that may be right for you. It was very early on and we’d completed only the very first steps in paperwork, but our caseworker called to say she had someone she wanted to tell us about. I can remember her words so clearly, “I know you haven’t even had the chance to fill out your medical condition checklist (yes, that exists), and I have no idea how you feel about cardiac kids….but, I have one that I wanted to tell you about.” I knew right then, he was ours. Right.then. She then went on to give a bit of his history, and said he had a small, clinically insignificant ASD. As we looked over his file that night, my heart knew he was the one, but I had so many doubts because it seemed too simple. I just knew it was going to be a kiddo that needed open heart surgery, or a pacemaker, or SOMETHING. We had two weeks to look over that file before we had to give an answer and I took the full two weeks- not because I had doubts about Titus- but because I was doubting God giving us a child with essentially no special needs when that’s what we were seeking out. Ever heard that He has a sense of humor?! Haha!
I write all of that out to say, in all the hard moments, I look back to this moment and see God’s faithfulness, both to Titus and to answering the prayer that we prayed. Of course, it looks way different than we’d ever imagined and it was certainly not what we checked off on our checklist…but, then again, I’m not sure anything in our life thus far is! Ha! He is seriously the most adorable little boy with such a sweet smile and it absolutely melts my heart when he tells us he loves us, sings “HALLELUJAH!!!!!” at the top of his lungs in the back seat, and reaches out for hugs from Judah and Eden. He is our son, and I could have never planned something so beautifully, difficultly wonderful.
I think last Wednesday was the most emotionally difficult day I’ve had concerning Titus since we took custody. I mentioned to you that we had two big appointments that day- one with the Rise School of Austin and one with the Public School System in our county- and asked for prayer. I’m so thankful for those of you who prayed that day and served our family that day more than you could know.
I had all my emotional expectations lined up for the day: first, we’d go to Rise School and have a wonderful play date, they’d say, “Yay! We can’t wait for you to join us next year!” and that would be over and done with and we’d move on to our “real battle” the dreaded IEP meeting…gasp! Looking back, my expectations were foolish and I’d put my hope in myself instead of in the Lord and His Sovereignty over our family’s future. We arrived at Rise School ready to play and he gladly left my hand to join his age group as a group of administrators and a therapist played and observed. I was supposed to be out of his sight and found myself becoming a bit nervous just not having my eyes on him…it’s been a rare occurrence in the last four months haha! But I settled down and was texting a couple friends and browsing Facebook.
Finally, the administrators emerged to discuss the play date! I’m so grateful for the kindness, compassion, gentleness and just sheer professionalism and care that they took while being honest with me about Titus’ readiness to attend a school like Rise. Because of the lack of opportunity he’s had to have any boundaries or expectations until four months ago when we took custody, he’s miles behind these sweet kiddos who have been receiving Early Intervention…some of them, since they were born! ( I joke that he’s my little feral animal! Haha…don’t be offended, I called Eden that when she was a two year old!) It was not a “No.” but it was a “We need to have another play date and see if he’s ready.” All of a sudden, my eyes were opened and I realized that I knew they were right…I didn’t know if Titus would be able to make it in a classroom without one on one supervision. We talked some more about the fact that I was about to head to his IEP meeting and to see what interventions they would offer, gave some other options for opportunities to grow in certain areas, etc. before we parted ways with a “next step” of trying a second play date during a more structured activity to see how he does.
I must again, reiterate the level of love and care that was given (love you, Meg!) and acknowledge that it wasn’t even the news of the school, but rather, the weight of reality crashing on me like a hurricane against the shore. So many people around me have reassured me (with the best of intentions!) that he was fine, he’d catch up by watching the big kids, that he just needed time, etc….but in my heart I knew better. But I realized Wednesday that I’d allowed myself to be a bit blinded to the reality, depth and significance of his special needs. I made it through only getting a bit choked up, but when I got him buckled in his carseat and got in the driver’s seat, I.lost.it. Like, the ugliest audible, moaning, weeping, groaning ugly cry you’ve ever seen. I honestly don’t think I’ve cried that hard since the day I found out there was something wrong with Judah and that he may not live after he was born. And I just kept.crying. I’m not kidding when I say that I wept for close to three hours straight. When we got home, I had to remind myself that Titus had to eat lunch before putting him down for his nap so we could go to the dadgum IEP meeting in two short hours. I had so many thoughts and emotions running through my head, but the biggest one was, “Lord, why would you give us a child with needs that we didn’t have the means to meet?! I know he needs gads of private therapy to catch him up, and we just can’t afford that!!” Don’t hear that I asked why He gave us Titus, because I’ve honestly never thought that, but I felt despair creeping in and the hopelessness of being helpless to give him what he needed. My sister (who has a long history with Special Ed and people with special needs) and my dear friend Shelly (adoptive mom of special needs kids) talked me off the ledge and told me to take some deep breaths and get it together, because- ready or not- round 2 was at 2:15.
Shelly was generous enough to sacrifice her time and her wisdom to go with Colby and I to the IEP meeting, so we all met up at the school with Chick-Fil-A sweet tea and cookies in hand as a peace offering haha (thanks for the tip, Shelly!), and I nervously sat down, still in a daze. They went over the results of the report that we’d gotten: Titus scored poor or very poor in every area of development and they were recommending that he be admitted to the Special Education Department with a diagnosis of Speech Impairment. Of course, I agreed with that, but I was concerned about all the other areas of development and felt my inner Mama Bear rising inside as I asked, “What about OT and PT? If he’s scored so low, why aren’t those recommendations?!” Their response? “Oh, he’ll have access to those services, too! The Speech Impairment is just the necessary diagnosis to get into the Special Ed Department.” Oh. They went on to offer him a spot in their inclusion preschool where he’d be learning alongside typical and special needs kids while receiving Speech and any other therapies deemed necessary there, during the school day, and he could start immediately- tomorrow even!- of course, at no cost. Okaaaaaay. I kept waiting for the hard part. And then they rolled out all of the goals they’d developed for him to work on while in school- and would you believe that almost every.single.one. was one of the things that Rise School had concerns about?! Alright….still not seeing the hard part and we were getting to wrap this thing up. It was too wonderful, but then I’m reminded, is anything too wonderful for God to do?!
My heart was immediately repentant and I had to laugh at the irony that in my personal study AND a several month long sermon series at church has been taking us through the book of Exodus and beyond, as the Israelites wandered in the desert and I can so see myself in them. I’ve experienced soooooo many parting Red Sea moments, and I immediately forget them when a hard day comes. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt, only to let us STARVE in the wilderness?!” Doesn’t that sound exactly like me?! Oh me of little faith. Even when I am faithless, He remains faithful: faithful to me, faithful to Titus, and- most of all- faithful to Himself and His Glory.
Miracle of miracles, Titus starts preschool on May 2 at Kyle Elementary and will have a solid month there before school lets out for the summer. We are scheduling a second play date with Rise and we will see where that leads us. We want the absolute best for Titus, but it’s such a relief to know that God wants that more than we ever could, and He’s the only one that can really provide that. My heart’s desire is for him to be at Rise School next year because it’s such a magical place and has blessed our entire family immensely, but my heart is at peace knowing that His will will be done. Regardless, the Lord has made a beautiful way for our special little boy in the coming months- and years! He is so, so good to us and even on the hard, awful, grievous days I can find joy in this truth.
I cried an ocean of tears that day, but as I prepared to lay my head on my pillow, these words rang loud and clear in my heart: Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives.