Misty is an occupational therapist who owns Therapy Works!, an outpatient clinic in Kaufman, Texas. She's been a therapist for 15 years and she clearly loves working with children. She also is a single mom to the precious blessing this story is about.
by Misty Melyn Fairchild
In the fall of 2007, an elderly lady came by my clinic seeking occupational therapy services for her seventeen month old grandson, Jacob. We scheduled an evaluation for the next week, but a few days later I got a call that he had been life-flighted for a seizure that wouldn’t stop and was still in the hospital. It was several weeks before I heard from her again. When Jacob finally came to my clinic for the initial evaluation, he was accompanied by his grandmother and grandfather (who were in their seventies) and a nurse. When his grandmother handed him to me, he was completely floppy and unresponsive. As she shared his medical history of prenatal drug exposure and uncontrolled seizures, I attempted to check his primitive reflexes…there were none. Her report went on to say that he had been put on a total of seven seizure medications, many of which were not approved for children under six years old, without relief of constant seizures. In those first few months of therapy, he was minimally responsive (only to pain).
I had been mostly raised by my aunt and uncle. Their first biological child was severely and profoundly disabled due to oxygen deprivation at birth. I grew up in a home where seizures were a regular occurrence, and a nebulizer and suction machine were the center piece on the coffee table. We lost my “brother” Justin to respiratory compromise when he was fourteen; he had always been totally dependent physically and his cognitive level was between three and six months. This sweet little Jacob reminded me so much of my Justin.
Jacob had just been put on the ketogenic diet, and they began to try to wean him off one of the seven medications. He began to show more responsiveness, especially agitation, when put in any position other than flat on his back. He did not like being held, but we soon discovered the rhythm of a swing was comforting, even though he was held. One day, as I watched his little face for signs of overstimulation (or seizures), his grandmother asked if I would ever consider adopting Jacob....
Over the next several months, I prayed and prayed for God to show me the reason why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. I finally realized that no answer was the answer. There was no reason I couldn’t or shouldn’t. As I came to this realization and started talking to my family and friends about my desire to adopt Jacob, THEY had plenty of reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t: I am single, I just started my own business which was very time consuming, I didn’t have money or help, and I would probably never find a husband if I had a special needs child.
Well, I am happy to say, I followed God. I have had Jacob for over four and a half years, the adoption was final almost four years ago. It has been the best decision I ever made. I am still single (and hopeful for a husband and more children), my business has almost failed several times due to having to close while I am at the hospital with Jacob (twenty plus times), and we had to fight but were able to do Rider 28 to get him in a waiver program to keep his Medicaid.
Jacob has shown more capability physically and mentally than Justin ever did, but his sweet smile is a constant reminder of my first love. At one point Jacob was able to sit independently for several minutes once placed, walk in gait trainer, and he had eight words. Seizures wax and wane, as do his skills. Jacob just turned seven; he currently sits with back support, tolerates a stander, and has two words. He can also now hold and drink from a straw sippy cup and nod his head. I am so proud!
The loss of skills with significant seizures can be disheartening at times, but his resilience fosters mine. Of course some days are harder than others. I want so much for him (and for us) that I can get discouraged, especially when we have set backs, but day in and day out his sweet smile makes all the trials and tribulations worth the extra effort.
I know God guided my whole life in a way that prepared me to be Jacob’s “Mom Mom”. And I am very thankful I didn’t pass up the opportunity to adopt my son based on all the logical reasons why I shouldn’t.
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