Article by by Dee Jones, President of Light 2 World, Inc
When I was younger, I loved playing with dolls, creating hairstyles, and caring for sick toys and birds. I knew early in life I wanted to become a nurse. I watched my mother care for others, and I had the horrible experience of watching a dear friend die before my eyes.
I prayed and asked God to use my gifts for His glory. It took me eighteen years to complete my nursing degree but along the way, I earned a degree in Early Childhood Development. I liked children and wanted to work in pediatric nursing one day. Years later, I did become a nurse, and I worked in pediatrics for a little while, then landed a position in Nursing Education at numerous local colleges.
I still enjoyed caring for others but did not stop there. My husband and I began to fostered children. What a rewarding experience. Being a foster parent was different from caring for a child in the hospital. A foster child lives in your home for a short or extended period. We had the blessing of assisting two boys from middle/high school years into adulthood. Fostering children can be arranged through the court system or through family arrangements. I was fostered by my great-aunt but remained a ward of the state. Though I was not officially adopted, I was unconditionally loved by my great-aunt Nancy.
Now my family is half-retired because I still work, life has changed drastically. Our own children are adults and we were looking to slow down some. Well God had other plans. Another little boy needed our help, but he was not born yet. We were approached specifically about raising this unborn baby. My first thought was” NO”. I was completing another degree and there was no way we were fostering an infant. Well the baby was born. We got the call, and no one was able to take this baby boy home. We took the drive to Ohio and said, “we will do our best”. That was five years ago, and we are still doing “our best” with God’s help. Life has not been the same. As we plunged into infancy again after 34 years of raising children and fostering other children; we begin to look up terms like Night Tares, Infant Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Reflux, Speech impairment, Proprioception Disfunction, Oppositional Compulsive Defiance, Anger Displacement, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism and more. What in the WORLD did all this mean! I had studied some of these terms in my Early Childhood Development years but never lived the experiences. Our infant did not sleep, he vomited every day, was constantly constipated, screamed in the middle of the night, and did not speak until almost two years old. We were plunged into the world of the “Special Needs Child”.
Where do I begin to get help!
We were not prepared for this (so we thought). Yet God was preparing us all the time. I had studied some disorders over a 14-year career as a Child development specialist for the Army Child Development Center. I helped young Moms with their babies who had such illnesses as Pyloric Stenosis and Prader- Willi Syndrome. There were times that my husband and I were the only caregivers for our friends who had children with severe ADHD and Anger Displacement Disorder. So, God was preparing us all along.
Now it is our turn to learn, advocate, and love our special son with God’s help. Is it easy? No way! Do I have doubts? All the time. But at the end of the day, when I gaze into those shifting brown eyes, I know we did the right thing. I pray a lot and journal often as we live one day at a time. I am learning more about myself than I ever thought possible through this child. My church and Life Recovery Group teach me coping skills to address anxiety, outbursts, and anger, even my own emotions. Each day is a new adventure and our son is truly a gift that keeps giving.
Resources: www.guardianangelguide.com, April 3, 2017, Prayer For Children With Special Needs
kennedykrieger.org and marylandfamilynetwork.org
Light 2 World, Inc , Dee Jones, President, 1013 Beards Hill Road Suite M #237, Aberdeen, MD 21001
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