I asked God, "How much time do I have before I die?"
He replied, "Enough to make a difference......"
"Enough to make a difference....."? I have always wanted to make a difference. For a long time I just didn't know how I was going to do that. I began with a major in college of education. Mostly because that was what my father suggested that I do. Then I switched to Interior Design. And ultimately graduated with a degree in Pre-Kindergarten Education.
I love little kids. So teaching preschool was right up my alley. Although after several years of working in this field, I come to find out that you don't really make any money at it. If for some reason I was going to need to be able to raise my children on my own, I needed a real career. A real career to me was one that gave me sufficient income, health benefits, and a retirement fund.
And so after much prayer and thought I sought after a degree as a Registered Nurse. Exactly 4 years later I graduated with my BSN and had a full time job that I loved at a local hospital. I finally felt that I had found my calling. The Lord had taken me back and showed me how when I was little that I would bandage up my teddy bears and doll babies. I do remember using an Ace bandage, Band-Aids, and such to treat my "patients".
I finally had real patients to care for and I put my whole self into my career. I worked full time and then some. If they needed a nurse to stay, I did it. Then turned around in less then 8 hours and went back for another regular shift. Heck I was young and healthy. I felt that I could conquer the world.
Little did I know that only a year after I began working that I got very ill. Doctors had no idea what was wrong with me and I saw probably dozens of doctors. I continued to lose alot of weight. I could not swallow any food. I was completely exhausted. My body was failing me. I had muscle twitches, muscle spasms, and shaking all over my body. The pain was so excrutiating.
I then began to have mini-strokes 2 years after I started to get sick. I had so many TIAs that I had lost count of how many there were. All I know was that my whole right side was pretty much useless, I couldn't put together a thought into a sentence and speak it correctly, and I still could not swallow without choking.
Finally we had found an angel of a doctor in Pittsburgh. She knew immediately what I had. As soon as she looked at me, she knew. I could not believe that we had finally found someone who knew what was going on within my body. I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Dystonia. My general doctor also evaluated me for symptoms that I had had for years and diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.
Now that my "career" was no longer relevant to my new way of life I wasn't sure how I was ever going to make a difference in anyone's life. God knows that I didn't even know how I was going to participate in my own life let alone making an impact on another's life.
Before I became ill I had already adopted my daughter in 1993. Jessica is now 19 years old. Then we adopted a baby boy, Adam, on the day that he was born in 1997. My life felt complete as far as children go. I was very blessed to have Jessica and Adam as my children. Up until Jessica came along I thought that my life may be childless.
How does one go through life without kids? What do you do on Christmas morning? What about Trick-or-Treating? Who do you take to see the kiddie movies on school holidays? Who calls you "Mommy" and wraps their chubby arms around your legs and squeezes you with all of their might? Why would you choose to miss out on all of the joy that kids can bring to your life?
God didn't choose for me to have birth children. I questioned Him for a very long time. But I had finally found the answer to "why?" It seems that God has had this plan for me all along. If I had had birth children I may not have been as "available" to adoption. Trust me that by the time Jessica was entering my life, I was ready for any child. I didn't care if my kids were purple with yellow stripes and didn't know one word of English. And that's a good thing.
Jessica was adopted at a time when our local county would not allow Caucasian people to adopt African American children, bi-racial children or any other ethnicity other then Caucasian. So we were very limited in our own county. Therefore, I started looking all over Ohio and the country for that matter. Jessica was found in a foster home about 1 1/2 hours from our home. Once we located her it took less then a week to go and meet her for the first time. I had prayed and waited 5 years for this child. I couldn't believe she was right in front of me!!! Jess is a delight in my life. She is becoming more of a friend now then my little girl.
Going through nursing school opened my eyes to a whole new world. I became more compassionate, empathetic and understood human suffering more now then ever before. My mind and heart would search for THE place in the world where I was able to make a difference. Even if it was for only one person at a time. It didn't have to be a big difference. I even found joy in holding a patient's hand and talking to them while they lay in a hospital room taking their last breath of life. Someone needed to be with them. I knew that I did not want to depart this life and enter the next all by myself. I pray that one person will be with me when the time comes.
Adam was adopted while I was still in nursing school. In fact I tease him by telling him that he has part of his nursing degree completed. My professors were kind enough to let me bring him to class with me beginning at the age of 10 days old.
Adam was born weighing 3# 13oz. and 6 weeks premature. There was no prenatal care. Unfortunately his birthmom did not take very good care of herself during her pregnancy and Adam has had to deal with the side effects of those actions. Even to this day. Don't get me wrong. I truly thank her for giving life to my son. So many others don't give their babies that chance. But Adam has had to struggle due to some of her decisions.
I have also adopted my husband's daughter from a previous marriage. I have raised Marsha since she was 8 years old but legally adopted her at the age of 18 years old.
Throughout the coming years we would adopt 3 more children with special needs. The International bug got to us and we have since brought home children from China, Vietnam and Armenia. Our children have multiple birth defects. Such as clubbed feet, cleft lip, cleft face and palate, completely blind in one eye, ADHD, Asperger's, sensory integration processing disorder, possible growth hormone deficiencies, and amniotic band syndrome.
I am not listing our children's features to help make you think that we are either crazy or that we should be commended for what we have done. We take no credit for the twist of fate in our lives. You see God has known all along what the future held for us and our kids. He orchestrated every situation and opportunity. For that we give Him praise!!
We just now ask to be given the opportunity to make a difference in other people's lives. And it seems that we are obtaining that goal.
We are very happy to say that sometime later this year we will be bringing home a little guy from Asia that has Down Syndrome. He has been waiting for us for a couple of years. We feel honored to be considered to be his forever family.