Friday, March 21, 2014

Keepin it real -- World Down Syndrome Day

Today is Elijah's Day...   World Down Syndrome Day

Elijah - our sweet, impulsive, headstrong, loving, non-complaint, "totally exhausting to parent" child with an extra 21st chromosome.

Its World Down Syndrome Day, so I am writing about my experience with the adoption of our son.  He was adopted at the age of 6 from China in March 2012.  He has been home with our family for a little over two years.  Two years of parenting like I have never parented.  Two years of endless hugs.  Its been a journey I didn't imagine to say the least.  Its been HARD.

I wasn't prepared at all.
 At all----

I watched a waiting children's website with his photo for two years.  I was in love with the lil' dude because he looked so much like my son, Joey.  I felt the Lord calling me to adopt a child with down syndrome.

In September 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and thought all my chances of adopting were gone.  I thought of this little face and knew it was too late.  China would not allow me to adopt if I had cancer.   Little did I know,  the Master Planner had other plans....God ha  future for this little one.   A few short months after my chemotherapy started, my husband and I were approved to adopt this sweet boy we call Elijah. 

Elijah was cared for by a foster family in China subsidized by an American organization called Love Without Boundaries.  I was able to sponsor Eli and get monthly updates on him as we waited....and waited.  What a blessing to our family.  We also received all the monthly photos of him provided by LWB after we adopted him.  This is truly priceless.

March 2012 proved to be a very stressful time for our family.  I did not travel to go get Eli so I had to wait until their return to the USA to meet him.  I had heard stories of how hard things were in China because he couldn't speak well and he didn't listen.  He wanted his own way all the time.  I quickly found out this was all true to the "Nth" degree.

Eli was -- and still is -- hard to parent.  He does not want to do what we ask and most times we must physically move him to the task.  He has his ideas and believes with all that is in him that he is doing what is correct or what is needed at that point.   Its difficult to have a child ignore you.  Its difficult to have to say --over and over-- what we want him to do.  Come to bed, get your shoes on, stop hitting, stop spitting.

Elijah is a challenge in every sense of the word.  Every minute he must be under our guidance.  If we don't know where he is....WE are in trouble.  We have caught him peeing in the kitty litter, writing on walls, leaving the house to go to the neighbors, getting called he is at the neighbors....the list is extensive.  As parents, we are "on" from the minute Eli rises to the minute he sleeps.  No rest while he is awake.  Its very tiring and we are exhausted.

This is Elijah -- this is down syndrome --

He has gotten better in many ways and does comply with some requests.  He loves to help people - but sometimes they don't need it (or don't want it)... 

I am NOT writing this to complain about my calling.  God calls us to hard things and we are there -- in the trenches with our boy.  There are days I look at him and say to myself, "Will I get through this day today?"  BUT - there are many days when I think to myself -- "Lord, you have blessed me!"

Elijah is ALL IN....anything he does.... he does it with zeal.  He is never wishy washy about anything.
He gets excited every morning for school.  He gets excited every day when he returns home.
He loves our animals and he loves his siblings.  He has a special place in his heart for his nephew and niece.    He always has his arms open wide for a hug when our grandson Tucker arrives for the day.

I am blessed by Eli and his extra chromosome.  He is smart and sometimes that does me in ((smile)).
I love him and I know he belongs with us where God has placed him through miraculous circumstances.  I am blessed.
If you get the chance, spend some time with a person with down syndrome.  YOU will be blessed too.