When we got his packet, we learned so much. He had been in care since the day he was born. He was born a 23 week preemie, to a young addict, who surrendered her rights right away. She did not know who the father was. A case worker snapped a Polaroid of his mom while she was in the office signing papers. I am grateful we have a picture of his biological mom for him. I am grateful to her that she carried our son and gave him life. She never would know what a treasure he is and how loved he is by us all.
He was born so early that he spent his first year in the hospital. He had many surgeries and troubles to overcome in order to live. He had several brain bleeds resulting in him needing a shunt from hydrocephalus. He blew a bowl and needed to have a colostomy bag for a while. He had preemie lungs and needed a lot of support. When he was finally stable enough to be released from the hospital, his first foster home could not handle his care and asked he be moved. He then was taken in by a very nice elderly, single, foster mom. She loved Antonio so much. Sadly, there were no pictures taken of him in the first five years of his life. The earliest picture I have of him is a school picture that they had sent home to his foster mom and she gave us of when he was five years old.
When we were cleared to go and visit him, he was five years old and his foster mom was 70. She cried when we met him and told us no one had ever tried all these years to adopt him. That she had been praying fervently for a family for him because the only reason why she was still fostering, was for him and she knew she could not lift and care for him much longer. Oh how she loved that boy...so much, that she never made him wear any of his leg braces or glasses. She would make the therapist leave her home if they made him cry. When we would go for a visit, he ruled their house and would be on the couch all propped up, with pillows all around him, on her couch watching TV. She didn't make him do anything he didn't want to do, including eat. When he moved in with us, he had just turned 6 and weighted 24 pounds. The first thing we did was had him evaluated for a G-tube.
We had the surgery done and they also did a flundo so he could not vomit. So he kept his food down better. He began to grow and put on weight right away. We also made him wear his glasses. His eyes were very crossed and he would take his finger and hook it around the bow and give them a yank and toss them across the room. He broke several pair before he learned I was going to just keep putting them back on every time. After wearing his glasses for a few years, his eyes are fine and he needs no glasses at all anymore! We made him stand in his stander and wear his leg braces. He quickly learned to love therapy and enjoy the long process of getting him ready every day.
Believe it or not, we were also told that he swore like a sailor and spent most of his time at preschool in time out. We have never heard him say one bad word in his whole life with us all these years. He has been nothing but sweet and joyful almost every day.
We had a very ruff start with him medically. As he had 15 shunt failures back to back when he came. It was exhausting. The long hospital stays and we had many children back then as well. Twice he got brain fluid infections from the surgery and we had to spend months at the hospital treating with antibiotics till all the infection cleared and he could have a shunt put back in.
He has had to have a hip reconstructed,
his back rodded
has prayed, out loud, off and on, day and night since he was a little boy, for prayer needs he knows of. He has almost always been a well behaved, grateful and happy guy. He has grown into a strapping, very muscular, young man.
I have to admit, when we adopted Antonio I did not think this far into the future. I mean Tim and I prayed about adopting him. We talked about how we would care for him as he grew but we had no idea the amount of care and work it would be to care for him as an adult. He is huge. He is heavy. His body is very stiff and like moving a large odd shaped jack. We have to be very careful. His medications and breathing treatments HAVE to be given every day at the correct time or he gets very sick quickly. His lungs fill with fluid. Also, there are many meds for his digestive system or it ceases to function properly. It is all a very delicate balance. All I can say now that Antonio has turned 20 is that it was all worth it. He is so worth every moment of time, every pulled muscle, every dime spent, every prayer prayed. He is the most wonderful son and such a joy to have as part of our family every day. God bless him for all the happiness he has brought into our lives.
Of course Aunt "S" made Antonio his cake. He wanted Bob and Larry! Thank you Aunt "S" and Uncle "B" for all you do for the children to make their lives special.