At 49 years old, I was a successful, single Christian businesswoman with an active social life and aspirations of a future in politics. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never become a mother by natural means and was perfectly content with my life as it was. In fact, I was quite comfortable in the belief that I would never become a mother at all. I didn’t even want children!
Then in October of 2005, I learned my brother’s estranged wife had given birth to a son that September who had Cerebral Palsy due to Paxil, no prenatal and a delayed C-section. It hit me that what I wanted most in life was for Cody to come and live with me, despite the fact that I had been told that he was likely deaf and mentally retarded and might never walk or talk. I knew in my heart that his best chance at life was to be with me. I knew instinctively that this was my child.
My brother had not told anyone in Minnesota that he even had a sister. So, when my parents told me about the baby, I embarked on a mission to find and adopt my new born nephew, Cody (now renamed Gabriel). Over the next eight months, I attended phone conferences that kept me informed about the plans the state had deemed appropriate. In May of 2006, I was told that Cody would be put up for adoption and his “birth” parent’s rights would be terminated. I immediately flew to St. Paul and applied to take him into my home.
In June of 2006, Cody came to visit me for 5 weeks. At nine months old, he weighed 13 pounds and was addicted to Valium. He was unable to hold his head up, sit up or roll over. He couldn’t chew or even eat pureed foods. He was still drinking formula! His hands were knotted in fists and he was often in fetal position. His hearing was at 30% with vision issues and developmentally he was 2 months old. He was deemed failure to thrive due to weight, which would require a feeding tube. During those 5 weeks I fell in love with my future son. I knew in my heart that if he came to live with me, his life would drastically change and I could redirect his future. My saddest moment was when I had to take him back to Minnesota. But, I knew then that nothing could keep me from my child.
Every Sunday, I petitioned my church to pray that Cody would come and live with me. It was nearly a year, thousands of tears and prayers, but finally it was a reality. That November, I won the right to raise him as my own and he was delivered to me in Florida. I immediately began a regimen of Holistic care including “baby yoga”, natural foods, herbal, nutritional and vitamin supplements, classical music, Sponge Bob, Pooh Bear, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune as well as physical and speech therapy.
He was like working with a rag doll. His head would droop over and he would throw up if I tried to give him anything other than thin liquids. Swallow tests, Shriners Hospital and therapists encompassed my days. I hired therapists to come into my home and over the next 18 months, I taught him to drink from a sippy cup, chew, crawl, stand, cough, clap and eat with a spoon. The first time he ate without vomiting was like a holiday for me.
I had promised God that if he gave me my son, I would dedicate him back and raise him to believe and I kept my end of the bargain.
We are moving to Georgia soon, where I have located one of the best Pre-K, developmental schools in the nation, the T. Carl Buice School in Buford, Georgia. My life is divided into two parts: Before Gabriel and after Gabriel. I barely remember my life before him, nor do I want to. He has been the deciding factor in who I am today.
Where I was once a self-absorbed, narcissistic business woman, I am now a Mother. My son is my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. I know that everything that I will ever do from this day forward will be about him. I never knew that I could put another human being so far ahead of myself, but he has become the most important thing to me. And what happens to him means everything.
Raising a “special needs” child has not been easy. Most of my days are spent with visits to doctors and therapists. In between, I teach him critical skills he will need to survive in this world. But, he has had to deal with so much more: from eye surgeries to sedated hearing tests he has performed like a champ! He is easily the bravest person I have ever known.
I have met the former President of the United States. I know the Governor of Florida and every major and minor political figure in between in Florida. I have worked with Superstars in the entertainment and sports arenas. No earthly accomplishment supersedes meeting my son for the first time. If I have to uproot my life and business to enroll him in the school that is best for him: So be it!
I thank God everyday for my son: My salvation, my life. I’ve never loved anyone this way, and if I never do again, I know that I am experiencing the greatest love of all – the love that a mother has for her child.
My adoption experience with Minnesota was so positive, that I fully plan on adopting from there again. Gabriel needs a sibling so that he doesn’t become a complete “Mama’s Boy”. I think a girl next time. He needs a sister because he loves girls.
This is just a small piece of a very important story about how love and commitment can change someone’s world. This page is dedicated to my Life with Gabriel. I hope to inspire other mothers and future mothers that there is HOPE no matter what doctors say.
I have watched my son go from a virtual vegetable to a toddling force of nature. He can deconstuct a room in minutes. He is ALL BOY! On these pages I will tell you what has worked for me and what I feel doesn’t work at all.