Our Children


Stephen is my biological and our oldest son.  He spread his wings and moved out on his own when he was 21.  :(   He is 28 year old now.  He lives in a town about 45 minutes away from us.  He has a good job and is a wonderful son.  He comes to visit about every other weekend and brings all kinds of junk for the kids to eat that I don’t usually let them have.  He plays games with the kids for a few hours and then sits down with me to play a very intense game of scrabble.  We have played it regularly since he was a very small boy and is our thing to enjoy doing together.  When he leaves we are both very tired from the mental thought and competition of it all.  :)

Antonio was adopted thru the foster care system when he was six.  I was going thru a time of intense grief in my life from losing my daughter Faith Anne.  I was researching children with special needs when I stumbled upon the My Turn Now website for the state of Georgia.  I didn’t know at that time there were websites for every state showing children that had already had Termination of Parental Rights done and were just sitting and waiting on being adopted.  Each state puts the hardest to adopt kids out there on their websites in hopes of finding them loving homes.  As I was on this site, I came across Antonio’s picture and he just touched my heart.  That’s all I can say.  Every time I would pull his picture up, I would feel like he needed me and that I needed him in my life.  The short description soon wasn’t enough to satisfy my wanting to know him more.  So Tim and I prayed about it and asked to be matched with him.  We were!  And were soon making regular visits down to Atlanta to spend time with him and get to know him better.  No one had ever tried to adopt him before and he was six by the time he moved into our home.  He also only weighed 24 pounds.  So we had a g-tube put into him and he soon became more stable and began to grow.  He is the most wonderful son.  His diagnosis and surgeries since coming to be with us are:   He was a 23 week preemie, Cerebral Palsy (spastic), a VP shunt (15 shunt failures and revisions since he has been our son) , Asthma, scoliosis (fully rodded now), Very slow stomach emptying, G-tube fed, flundoplication (sp?), reactive airway, he aspirates on thin liquids so gets all his fluid by g-tube, poor circulation, incontinent, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, developmentally delayed on all fronts.  He has the mind of about a five year old.  He can do none of his daily care and has very limited use of his hands.  He has went thru countless painful surgeries and hospital stays for sicknesses.  But he has always kept his happy demeanor and positive out look about all things.  He always has a smile on his precious face.  He prays literally day and night for all he knows that need prayers and is such a sweet young man.  He is 21 years old now.

William is Tim’s and my biological son.  He was born with autism, deslexia and an audio processing disorder. He is the sweetest and most compliant child I have ever had the privilege of raising.  He is so laid back just like his dad.  He has never sassed or been disrespectful to us and has only had to be disciplined a handful of times in his whole life.  He has always been such a good boy but was a challenge to raise in other areas, as he had so many sensory issues as a baby and child.  He never spoke understandably until he was 6 years old, even with tons of therapy.   He was in speech, occupational, and physical therapy most of his life and also had feeding therapy when he was very young.   He loves to work hard and is my right hand man around here since Stephen moved out a few years ago.  William likes legos and any kind of vehicle that moves.  From cars to submarines ….well I guess you could say he likes anything that is mechanical.  When he was 8 he saw the movie Herbie the Love Bug and loved the car in it so much.  He said that night, he was going to save his money and buy one.  So he started raising pigeons and bantam chickens here on the farm and selling them and asking for any kind of odd jobs he could do and saved his holiday money.  When he was 12 he had enough money to purchase his VW that he has plans of turning into Herbie.  It is a nice little car that runs most of the time.   He had the motor rebuilt and is saving for a paint job.  He has had it in several car shows and plans to have that be his hobby car.  He loves stop animation and makes movies using legos.  He wants to work in animation when he grows up.  He has a youtube channel.  Legobro4Studios.  My sweet William is 19 years old.
                                                                    

Faith Anne was the first special needs child we had ever taken into our home thru foster care.  If she had not come I don’t know that we ever would have done what we did with our lives.  She taught us so much in her very short life.  We had gotten the call to take in a nine month old special needs baby that they could not find placement for.  So we said we would take her temporarily as I didn’t think we would know how to care for her long term.  But after we saw her and I spent one day with her.  We all knew she could stay as long as God ever allowed us to have her.  She was born special needs with doubled up genetics and a slew of things doctors never did figure out.  She was the hardest child I ever cared for but one of the most rewarding.  She never learned to walk, crawl, eat solids, well…..by the worlds standards she couldn’t do anything.  She self mutilated from the time she woke up till the time she fell asleep.  A tormented beautiful little child.  But she taught us so much.  She taught us about sacrifice of life.  How that Jesus gave His life for us.  And it took our whole day and life in sacrifice to keep her cared for and loved.  She taught us about unconditional love.  That sometimes love is hard.  That God loved us no matter what shape we were or are in.  And that we, in love for her, didn’t care what others thought or said about her.  We loved her.  When the state terminated parental rights Tim and I adopted her.  She was my very first daughter.  I found a love for colors I never wore myself in all the pinks and purples, bows and lace.  I could tell she liked to be dressed up and look pretty.   I love and miss her daily and always.  There are just no words. 
 
Carolyn was adopted thru foster care.  She came to us at 10 weeks old.  We had gotten a call from DFCS asking us if we would be interested in taking in a baby with Fetal Alcohol syndrome from a foster care home that they just had to speedily close.  We said yes and the case workers brought to my home a bright red, screaming, sweaty tiny baby that they handed over to me like a hot potato.  She must have screamed the whole way to my home.  Once they left and she settled down I looked into her eyes and saw the most needing look.  The look to just be held.  She was so beautiful and petite.  Like a little china doll.  But her emotions were all over the place if you placed her down.  The sweet little girl just needed to be held.  To feel ok.  So she was a Velcro baby.  I wore her.  Tim wore her.  Someone was almost always having to hold her to keep her feeling fine.  Her mother signed away rights to Tim and I after a long drawn out case that was not going to end well for Carolyn.  As the mother was still drinking heavily and the judge pushing hard for reunification and nothing done on the case plan at all for all those years.  But after much prayer  and fasting God moved and had things work out according to his plan.  As that is what we were praying for.  What God thought was best.  And she is my wonderful  kind and thoughtful daughter. (that still struggles with her emotions at times) Bless her heart.  She is a very hard worker and wants to be just like me.  (now that puts the pressure on for sure)  I don’t have to carry her everywhere anymore.  But she is always close by.  Either wanting to help make bread or help me deliver baby goats.  She is with me.  She recently told me that she wants to have a home birth when she gets married and has kids,  IN MY BATH TUB!  And have me be the mid wife.  OY!  That’s my girl.  She loves her pony Millie, working with animals, ballet and cooking.  She is a wonderful daughter and is 16 years old.
Zeke joined our family thru foster care as well. Tim and I had went thru a stage where we decided that we didn’t want to take in any more babies for a while and had just donated all our baby things.  We had decided with how much work Antonio was and with Carolyn being so clingy that we needed a break from babies for a while.  There was this case worker at DFCS that had tried for years to have a baby and could not.  After  many years she and her husband had just adopted a baby.  Every time I went in to DFCS I would stop by her office and get an update on how her new baby was doing.  One night I had a dream.  The dream happened like this…..I walked into DFCS to turn in some paper work and this case worker said to me…”do you and Tim want my baby”.  I said. “ I can’t take your baby. You have waited for years to have a baby and now you have adopted”.  “I can’t take your baby”.   She said.  “There is something seriously wrong with this baby. “ And I reiterated that I could not take her baby.  That she loved her baby.  Then the director of DFCS walked up behind her and said. “ You will be really blessed if you take this baby.”    Then I woke up and thought, that was a strange dream.  Dreams are strange some times.  So I thought no more of it.  BUT….the next day.  I did drive over to DFCS to turn in some paper work and as I walked by that case workers open office door she hollered out to me.  “Susan!  Do you and Tim want a baby.”   I said “No.”   “ Tim and I talked about it.  I just got rid of all my baby things because we decided that we were not going to do babies at least for a while.”  She said “Susan, you and Tim would be perfect for this baby.”  “There is something seriously wrong with this baby.”  I froze.  Then the director walked up and patted me on the back and said.  “Come-on,  you will be really blessed if you take in this baby.”    My mouth went dry.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  So I said…”Ok….tell me about this baby.”  So they told me how they had a new born baby that they had been trying to find a home for, for 8 days and no one would take it.  The hospital wanted it moved and it was not in our county.  The baby was born to an HIV positive mom.  Who didn’t take her meds thru the whole pregnancy or go to her health appointments or prenatal visits.  She had all of her previous children taken away for one reason or another.  So after a series of events we went and picked up Zeke and brought him home with us.   He was a medically fragile child and was a lot of work but oh the sweet cubbiness of his adorable self.  The cuddly hours of holding and loving on him.  Made it all worth it.  Eventually they did terminate the parental rights and we adopted him.  Praise be to God the HIV antibodies washed out of his system at 18  months old completely.  His diagnoses are autism, asthma, trachealmalacia, audio processing disorder,  floppy tone cerebral palsy and pica.  We have him on a special diet and if he gets into something he should not eat he starts having all his autistic behaviors return.  And he becomes aggressive.  He just can't control his feelings to hit or act out if he gets exposed to his trigger foods.  When he is eating exactly right he is a kind, gentle, sweet, funny little guy.  So we watch his diet like a hawk.  She is quite delayed in his speech and in learning.  He has never progressed past the first grade level of learning.  But we work at it daily and he is progressing.  Just very slowly with lots of repetition.  He is a wonderful son and God was right!  We were very blessed to take this child into our hearts and lives.  He is 14 years old.


Elizabeth is our youngest child and joined our family thru foster care the first go around.  She came to be a part of our family at 12 weeks old and is my most fragile child.  She was born with a three chamber (truncus arteriosis)  heart that needed repaired at birth in order for her to even live.  Elizabeth has had one other open heart surgery repair when she was 4 and will need several more open heart surgeries thru out her life.  She was a preemie, had a trach, a g-tube, floppy tone CP, a kidney that needed repaired, a collapsing skull that she needed to wear a helmet for a while to reshape her head and lung disease. She wears hearing aids in both ears and has learning disabilities.  She is very immature and struggles with controlling her emotions.  God and time is helping tremendously with it.   We were told she would never walk because she was so low tone.  She could not keep her hips under her to support her weight.  And we were told she would never talk as she had bi-lateral vocal cord parelization.   And miracle after miracle she has overcome and done wonderfully.  God has done so much for this child.  I know His hand is on her life.  I have to remind myself of these things as she is full of spunk and has been a handful to raise.  I have had to constantly struggle with her trying to help her with her emotions and being mean spirited.  BUT….we love her unconditionally.  As Jesus did us.  When I have gotten frustrated with her I have to keep in mind that God loved us and kept calling us even when we were in sin and pushing him away and running from him.  HE gave us grace over and over again and grace over and over again is what is required to parent Elizabeth.  She has come a very long way and got saved last year.  Praise be to God!  And that has made a huge difference in her behavior and how hard she is trying to be good and do right.  I see that she is going to be fine by the grace of God.  Aside from these things Elizabeth is also a wonderful daughter.  And I mean that.  She is bright, cheerful and funny.  She loves all things girly and takes ballet, plays with dolls and likes playing tea party.  There are a lot of things she cannot do because of her heart and very low tone.  But there is so much more she can and does even if people tell her she can’t.  She is one amazing fire ball of a kid.  And God is going to use her to His glory as He does us all.  Praise be to His Holy Name.  Elizabeth is 13 years old.

After years of being retired from being foster parents, Tim and I prayed and prayed if we should reopen to see if God had any more children for us to raise.  We reopened and Glory to God He did!
 
Billy is the oldest of a sibling group that came into our home with his younger brother.  They both were hospitalized and on IV antibiotics for staff infections in their diaper area, when we received them.  Billy had to have surgery to drain the staff from his hip.  Their biological mom was a heavy meth user, so both boys were exposed while she was pregnant with them.  She also smoked meth around them, so both boys went thru detox when they came to live with us.  They were both terribly neglected and had never been taught anything, even how to eat solid food.  They were both on bottles when they came.  They had been tied in car seats their whole lives.  Needless to say they both were terribly, developmentally delayed and had horrible behaviors when they came.  Billy only knew 20 words when he came at 2 1/2 years old and most of them were bad.  He was aggressive and violent. He didn't know how to play with toys and only used them as weapons or tried to break them.  He has to be highly supervised at all times, especially when around other children.  He is a handful of constant motion and energy.  He struggles with a poor attention span.  In our home he has blossomed by the grace of God.  We love him very much and he has made so much progress.   He is very intelligent and has a very bright future ahead of him!  Billy is 4 years old.

Timothy is Billy's younger brother.  He is quiet by nature and takes in everything.  He does not talk much and his therapist think he is on the Autism spectrum.  He can not eat dairy or wheat or he will cry all the time and suffer from bowel pain and diarrhea.   He has about one day a week where he tantrums almost all day.  Which is better than every day like when he came to live with us at one and a half years old.  He is very delayed and immature for his age.   He is progressing very slowly but is progressing Praise God!  We love him very much, he is a sweet boy and is now 3 years old.

Kinsley is a sweet baby we took in at 4 weeks old.  Her biological mom used meth heavily.  It caused Kinsley to have Hypoplasia of the Corpus Callosum, optic nerve hypoplasia and hypotonic Cerebra Palsy.  When she came to us she did not make eye contact till she was four months old, could not track objects or use her arms and legs.  Slowly over time thru prayer and us working with her, she has progressed along slowly reaching  milestones we were told she might never reach.  God is so good!  We are honored to call her our daughter and witness the miracle of her life unfold.  It has truly been amazing to watch her learn and progress.  She can see but we have been told she is legally blind.  God is so good and we believe she is going to do great things.  She is now 2 years old.    

When I write, I try to be real and as honest as I can be.  As I want to encourage others and learn from others, giving glory to God in it all.  When you are raising kids, special needs, adopted, so called typical or biological……Nobody’s life is perfect and happy all the time, easy all the time, wonderful all the time.  Many people’s lives are downright hard every day with no end in sight.  I have been there.  I know.   But… Tim and I are very average and normal people.  Any good you see at all in us, is of God and ALL the glory and honor goes to Him.  Is His alone.

6 comments:

  1. You have such a wonderful family. May blessings pour upon your home :)

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    1. Thank you ever so much Kennelenne Villaneza! God be with you!

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  2. Such beautiful children. You are all blessed to have each other . Your story affects so many. As a mother of special needs child myself you inspire myself and others . May you and your beautiful family have blessings as you walk and grow daily in God's Love.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment and blessing. God be with you in all you do as you live and grow in Him. Big hug from the North Georgia Mountains!

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  3. I am a good friend of Carolyn and i just found your blog. Sometimes I find Carolyn a hard person to be around but after hearing her story I feel like I understand her better.This had me almost crying,especially Billy and Timothy's story. I just wonder how someone could have two beautiful children and then just neglect them. All of your children are so blessed to have someone willing to care for them and love them no matter how hard it is.

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    1. Thank you for writing Ali...and for being Carolyn's friend. She does not make friends easily. God is so good and has blessed us mightily with our children. It is not always easy but God did not call any of us to easy. He is so faithful and we are truly blessed. :)

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