I do not like Delhi. Probably anyone who has talked to me in the past month knows that. My sister and I spent one full day there and when I left I said I would only go back to Delhi to get Abraham. And as I write this I’m getting ready to go to the airport and board a plane to Delhi, which can only mean one thing. I’m going back for the little boy whose story God has weaved so perfectly into mine.
Delhi is overwhelming at best. There is so much hustle and I constantly felt like everyone was out to scam me. The pollution was over powering and after a week of torture I can personally attest that Delhi Belly is a real thing. After only half a day in Delhi my sister and I retreated back to our hotel room. As soon as I got into the wifi zone in our hotel a message from our director, Sarah, popped up on my phone. There was a baby boy in Delhi with a lot of medical needs that we had been asked to think about taking. I immediately messaged back that I was in Delhi and had no plans for the rest of the afternoon. One thing lead to the other and I was calling the social worker who had referred this case to us. He was out of the office for an hour so I watched some TV and called back. He had not yet meet Abraham so he did not have any more information than what was in the email but he promised to call the children’s home he was at. At 4:30 he called back and told me if I could get to the home by 5 I could meet Abraham. He asked where I was staying as Delhi is huge. And we were staying about 15 minutes away from where this little baby was living. God is in the details, there is no doubt about it.
So I wrote down the address on a piece of paper, said a prayer, and my sister and I walked outside to find an auto. The first driver we found was one that had taken us around earlier and he thought he knew the general area that the children’s home was in. 15 minutes and a couple of wrong turns later we showed up at an unassuming building with toys sitting in the front yard. Still holding my piece of paper with the name of the person who was expecting me I fumbled around for a bit until we found her. After some chai and biscuits they finally brought me Abraham. He was small but taking in everything around him. I held him and cooed at him for about five minutes. He was super content the entire time but kept looking back to his caregiver, checking to make sure she had not left him with the strange white woman.
The director of the home explained that they typically only dealt with healthy babies. When they took him they did not realize that he had a heart condition and several other issues. He’s had frequent, reoccurring pneumonia, trouble gaining weight, some eye issues, and several other health concerns. They really loved him, I could tell by the way they talked about him and by his medical records. They wanted what was best for him and could not keep him. There were tears in the directors eyes when she told me all this and over and over again she kept telling me how encouraged she was that we were doing this work. She talked of the institutions that they would have to take Abraham to if they could not find another home to take him and how she did not think he would survive there. I left with his medical records in hand and I told her I could make no promises but we would pray about taking Abraham.
One my auto ride back to the hotel I thought about how on only God could have arranged this meeting. The exact day I was in Delhi, with a free afternoon, staying 15 minutes away from Abraham. That can only be because God, the master designer, had arranged this meeting long before. After I got home from Delhi I continued to pray and think about Abraham. We decided to go ahead and give the green light for beginning the transfer process. The entire time I kept feeling like I needed to bring him to my home. I fought it for a bit- I already have seven high needs kids. And I know nothing about heart problems: my knowledge begins and ends with the fact that cardio babies have poor swallowing skills and tend to be low weight (thanks mom!). But God continuously put Abraham on my heart and reminded me that nothing about his will is logical. He calls us to abandon our own will and follow his will for our lives.
The name Abraham is incredibly close to this little baby’s real name (Abraham will be his name for online use). Last Sunday I was rereading the story of Abraham and Issac. And I was struck by Abraham’s faithfulness even during this test of his faith. God told him to sacrifice his only son and he listened despite the fact that he had no idea why God would call him to this act. And at the end God provided and abundantly provided for Abraham. Taking this baby is an act of faith for me. I have no idea where the money will come for his surgeries and doctor visits. There are so many unknowns with his future but yet I feel that without the hand of God this story would not even exist. So in spite of all the unknowns I know one thing; God has already and will continue to provide for baby Abraham.
In a couple of hours I will be boarding a plane to Delhi along with Priya, our amazing nurse. We will fly to Delhi tonight and fly back with Abraham tomorrow night. Please pray for a smooth flight and for their to be no issues with paperwork. Also especially pray for Abraham. I have not seen him in almost 2 months now so we have no idea what his current condition is. He’s also leaving behind people who love him and going to complete strangers who do not know him or his language. Please pray for his transition in my home and for us to get a quick handle on any medical issues he may have. Also please pray for finances. New kids are always expensive and Abraham will need heart surgery sometime in the immediate future. Fundraising is something I struggle with but this little boy is so worth it. God does not call us to be comfortable, he extends a hand and invites us into the great unknown. Bringing Abraham into my home is a stretch for me but I’m holding on tight and stepping out for this little boy.
One of the biggest things we focus on here on the rooftop is communication. All of my kids have some struggles with communication. They all struggle in different ways with different things. Communication is such a huge part of having a good quality of life so I work really hard on identifying how each kids currently communicates and what we can do to get them communicating to each of their maximum potentials. We face a lot of challenges with working on communication but we’ve also seen some progress in this important area. SCH is working on building a therapy program up that would include speech therapy in addition to physical and occupational therapy. I’m really looking forward to this as it will take some of the pressure off me to come up with therapy plans and implement them!
A major struggle with communication is that many of my kids don’t understand the basics of communication. Babies learn that when they cry their caregivers will react and give them a bottle, comfort them, give the something to play with, etc. Because of their neglect during early years they never learned this basic concept. I’ve been working with my caregivers to have them attempt to figure out why their child is crying or upset and address that need right away. This is especially important for my non-verbal children. I’m hoping that if we work on constantly meeting their needs that we can help with this basic building block and help with their communication
Another struggle is that my kids are spoken to in two different languages. I speak to them mainly in English (I’m in Telugu lessons right now but languages are not my thing!) and my Indian staff speak to them in Telugu. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not it is a good idea to have them learning two languages but ultimately I’ve decided that it’s fine. Kids who know two languages tend to be smarter plus if they get adopted it will probably be to a English speaking country so knowing English would be beneficial to them. I think it confuses them a bit right now but in the long run it’s beneficial.
One of the biggest parts of teaching them to communicate is figuring out what motivates each child. For kids like Julie and Caden it’s easy to figure out motivators. For my less expressive children- like Thomas and Katherine, I struggle with trying to find things that they really like. With Penny the problem is that she loves everything so even if I take away one motivator she is content to just look at something else and is not interested in getting the object back. Working to identify each individual child’s motivators has been a tough but we’re making some progress in figuring out what exactly is motivating for each child!
For each child I’ve done a short snippet on where they are communication wise and what we are currently doing. If anyone has any advice or tips please feel free to share them with me!
Caden: Caden’s speech is a little bit delayed but I think it’s more related to the fact that he is learning 2 languages! His only actual word is mom in both English and Telugu. He does babble a fair amount though and is pretty close to saying ball. His receptive is much better than his expressive- he will clap his hands or do prayer hands when asked. I think with some time he will be fine language wise and right now we just work on reading books together and playing games.
Katherine: Most times when I tell people that Katherine is deaf-blind one of the first questions I get is how we communicate with her. I’ve been using an object schedule with her with varying levels of success. She seems to react negatively to the ball that symbolizes physical therapy but every other part of the schedule she seems neutral to. The only real motivator I can find for her is food so we attempt to incorporate that into our therapy times. Of course our whole communication system with her will change once she gets her cochlear implant and has it activated! Right now we’re just working on some pre-communication skills. I will swing with her and when I stop I make her sign more before I start again. I do this too sometimes with snacks. I’m trying to prepare her for the idea of communicating for when she starts using her cochlear implants!
Thomas: Thomas is the kid I struggle the most with in this area. I have not really identified any motivators for him and his physical limitations keep him from using a switch. I’ve been working on some pre-communication stuff as well with him but I’m not really sure where to go from here.
Penny: Penny’s communication goals have switched over to primarily ASL once I found out she was profoundly deaf. At first I was trying to get her to sign “more” but now I’ve decided that might be too abstract and have decided to concentrate on “water” and “ball”. Signing has not clicked for her but I feel once she gets one sign and it clicks that more will follow. I’m also considering starting a modified PECs system pairing the sign with the picture. I still need to do more research and figure out what the best approach is for her. Right now I don’t think we are going to pursue a cochlear implant but I might reevaluate that decision once we get Katherine’s.
Valor: Valor has made some great progress recently that I’ve shared in previous blog posts! He is using a two-sided programmable switch. He has used it several times to request “more” when swinging or licking a lollipop. He’s not consistent with it so we are continuing to work every day on just using the switch. I’m also trying to figure out the best possible way to position the switch so Valor knows where it is and can consistently access it. Some days his arms are tight and some days he has more movement. Positioning it is hard especially because one of his motivators is swinging in the hammock! I’m hoping to continue to using his switch throughout the day and in different situations and once he uses it consistently seeing what the next step is.
Julie: Our biggest language struggle with Julie is that she is so darn stubborn! She knows the answers but she will say something else. For example if I ask her what color something is she will say “book”. I’ve heard her answer correctly before so I know she knows the basic colors! Her Telugu is better than her English but she still purposefully answers wrong in Telugu too! We work on correctly answering questions and increasing her vocabulary. Her expressive and receptive skills are both delayed for her age so we continue to work on doing activities to build both of them up!
Darren: Darren’s language skills are probably the most appropriate for his age out of all my kids. He does have a bit of a stutter which is cute now but probably needs to be addressed in the future!
With so many varied communication issues in my home it can all be a bit overwhelming at times! I try to incorporate communication into the kids days and we’ve been able to really concentrate on it during preschool time. As we get speech therapists working with my kids I will be able to pass off more of it to the therapists and just reinforce it throughout the day. If anyone would like more information about our emerging rehab program please let me know! We are looking for clinics, foundations, or individuals who would be willing to help sponsor this new program that will be so beneficial to the children we take care of.
Chaos would be the one word I would use to describe this year so far. It seems that every time I find some type of footing another wave of chaos hits. Some of it is good chaos, like my sister visiting, and some of it is bad chaos and some of it is just the chaos of living in a country that is not my mine. The other day I heard a quote that summed up my thoughts on this current season: “It is often in the chaos and confusion of our lives that the gospel is most clearly heard.” // T. Keller. Despite all the chaos that is my life right now I find my heart being constantly redirected to Jesus.
It’s no secret that I dislike Indian hospitals. They bring out anxiety I have never experienced. The uncertainty, the advocating, and the sheer chaos of a medical system with no true organization exhausts me. But taking kids to the hospital has been a weekly thing recently and there is no end in sight. Most days I come back from the hospital feeling like I didn’t do enough. That I didn’t say the right words or push for the right things. Most days I come back exhausted, hungry, and grumpy. But some days within this chaos he redeems my grumpy soul. He gives me chances to share about Caden and his condition. He gives me chances to show doctors and other waiting patients just how much worth these children have. He gives me the chance to advocate for my kids who do not have a voice. The other day the ENT told me that Katherine and Eden were the first two deaf-blind children he had ever given an implant to. A year ago both of these girls had no idea there was a world beyond their cribs. And now both are loved and being given the gift of hearing. Their story of redemption gives me shivers just thinking about it. Hospitals days drain me but in this season God has shown me how even the days I dread have worth to him. And when I open my eyes and dwell with him I cannot go wrong.
Fundraising for Katherine’s cochlear implant surgery was not easy. I was fast to get discouraged when the money did not come in. The doubting Thomas side of me came out. I knew just how much it would change Katherine’s life but I could not seem to make others care. I doubted that our God who cares for the lilies of the field also cares for a deaf-blind previously abandoned child in India. And God took the situation and used it to show me just how intimately he cares about each and every single one of us. He orchestrated people from all around the world and not only do we have enough money to pay for Katherine’s surgery fees but also we have enough to get some of my kids some much needed braces. Sometimes it is so easy to read the words about how much God cares for us and take them for granted. Or read them and feel bitter because we don’t believe that God actually cares for us of us so intimately. But then God takes his words and breathes life into them and they show up in our own lives. In this season God continues to show and remind me of his promises even when my faith is weak.
When I as travelling around India back at the beginning of February with my sister the chaos of India almost got to be too much. When we were in Delhi we had to retreat back to our hotel after only half a day of sightseeing. But yet out of the chaos of Delhi God weaved together a story of his prefect timing. He took what could have been an awful day and brought some good out of it. The story is still unfolding and it looks to bring even more chaos into my life in the form of a sick baby but yet there is peace to be found in this chaos. Peace that comes with following God’s will even when it does not make sense. Because so little of the Gospel does make sense. So even as I willing invite more chaos into my life I do so with complete peace. Peace that can only come from God and abiding in his will.
And maybe the most important lesson that comes out of this season is the ability to find God all around me. To find his presence amidst the chaos of hospitals, overcrowded streets, long nights, and everyday weariness. I find him in the kindness of a stranger who gives Caden and I chocolates as we wait to see yet another doctor who has no answers. I find him in the laughter spent with fellow foster moms as we make milkshakes late at night and laugh at the craziness that is this life. I find him in churches, in the people I pass in the streets, in quiet nights when I climb to the very top of the roof and pray underneath the spattering of stars. Maybe God brought this season of chaos into my life to teach me to constantly seek him. To see clearly how the Gospel plays a role in my life. To make me seek him daily through the chaos of this life.