It was November 2010. My husband and I had become foster parents earlier in the summer and we received a phone call from our resource worker saying they had another placement for us. We were slightly apprehensive because our first placement had proved highly challenging. Little did we know that this one would make our first seem like a cakewalk and end up changing our lives forever.
We arrived at the agency around suppertime and was introduced to the social worker handling the file. Baby Jonathan was at the hospital and had been there since his birth in late September. She advised us that Jonathan had been born addicted and that his survival was not certain. Any apprehension we came in with evaporated as we learned more about him.
Johnathan had been born with Neonatal abstinence Syndrome. Simply put, he had become dependent on Morphine while in the womb and was now experiencing a range of very distressing symptoms that included full body arching, shaking, and irritability (excessive high-pitched crying). It was so severe that the Doctors had to administer Jonathan with morphine so that he could be slowly weened off.
We met Jonathan that evening and began several weeks of extended visits at the hospital so that we could get to know him and bond with him. He was successfully weened from the drug and despite the awful experience he’d had, Jonathan seemed to be a happy and healthy baby boy. We brought him home on December 13, 2010 and into the sunlight for the first time since his birth three months previous.
Jonathan’s schedule was very precise because of his hospital stay. Three hour feedings continued round the clock for about a month and not a lot of sleep was had. He eventually settled in and progressed like any other baby as far as we could tell. He was happy and content. And so were we.
At about six months of age we started noticing a few things that were out of place. For one thing he wasn’t sitting up and he wasn’t crawling. He had low physical tone and very poor balance. His method of travel was by rolling! Actually he got quite good at this. Also there was no baby babble that you would normally associate with a child of his age. He made sounds but they were just grunts, groans and giggles. We came to understand quite well what his needs were though these sounds, but no speech developed.
Jonathan had been well supported with external services such as physiotherapy and speech therapy but it was evident to all involved that he wasn’t meeting his milestones. There was always a bit of the unknown at play, but in general it was thought that his neonatal abstinence syndrome was probably the reason for his delays. It wasn’t, and it would be two years before we learned the difficult truth.
When Jonathan was about two and a half he underwent a huge battery of tests including a neurological test. The results were clear. Jonathan had been born with a neuro-genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. This news was hard to hear, but it was also relieving because we now knew what was going on. We learned that he would probably walk, but he would never speak. He would need constant care for the rest of his natural life. Our family had no trouble accepting this reality. We loved this little boy like he was our own. During the summer of that year, Jonathan walked for the first time through the beautiful green grass on our front lawn.
We all loved him from day one. We took steps from the earliest opportunity to adopt him. As of today, we are now in the final stages of the adoption and it should be finalized by June. This coming summer will be the best summer ever.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I am looking forward to sharing many more stories about Jonathan as his life progresses. I would very much like to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a question or comment or send me an email here firstname.lastname@example.org