I found myself crying uncontrollably in a storage room at the high school where I was a teacher. I had just returned to school from an appointment with my one year old son, Hunter, and his developmental pediatrician. We had been in and out of the hospital for genetic testing for the past 8 months with no answers – we had even been told at one time when they did think they had an answer that he was dying and that we needed to make appropriate arrangements. I had been strong. I hadn’t broken. But this day, I lost it. It was the words Dr. Garrison said, “You need to understand that Hunter is profoundly mentally retarded….” and that’s all I heard. I don’t remember anything else until I got back to my English class that I had to teach, and I couldn’t. I was numb and couldn’t speak, so I left and went into the storage closet of my friend’s classroom, and I broke down. It had registered – profoundly mentally retarded. I was a teacher. I knew what profoundly mentally retarded meant. We had those kids, those classes in our school. I saw those kids every day. Hunter would be one of them? Wow….
I didn’t teach the rest of that day. I don’t remember anything else about that day, actually, other than the LORD spoke to me. He reminded me of our conversations when I was pregnant with Hunter. Such conversations stemmed from my experiences as a teenager and a beginning teacher. When I was in high school I taught Special Olympics gymnastics. I worked with “retarded” kids, teaching them their gymnastics routines for their competitions. I loved it. There was one boy in the program who went to my school, and I saw kids pick on him at times so I would step in and do my best to stop the bullying. I had a heart for the “special” kids. After college and during my first couple years of teaching, I worked as a special education aid during summer school. I worked with two elementary school girls who had Downe Syndrome. Again, I loved it. So, when I was pregnant with Hunter, of course I prayed for a healthy baby. However, I also “offered” to take a special child. I told God that I’d be ok with that if He needed someone to take one. I was a brand new Christian at the time, so this was an immature and somewhat arrogant prayer, obviously; but, after our appointment with Dr. Garrison, it hit me – “retarded” – I told God I would do this! I offered! In my mind, I may not have pictured it like this, but I did say that. Immediately after that realization, God spoke to me. He told me that it wasn’t my “offer” that gave me Hunter. That actually, my prayers were HIM speaking to ME and telling me that He was with me and that I would be fine with the special child he had given me. Right then, my spirit was calmed and I was at peace. He was preparing me for what was to come – a beautifully, wonderfully made child who would have special lifelong needs and that He would equip my husband and me to take care of him. That is grace, given straight from the LORD God Himself. And from that moment on, through God’s grace, I have never questioned His plan. I have continued to look for a genetic diagnosis, simply for treatment purposes, but I have never questioned “why?” because I know. Hunter was created for a purpose, and the LORD told me before he was even born that I was meant to be his mom.
Hunter is now 15 and a half years old, has had 13 spine surgeries, has beaten death three times, and still has no diagnosis other than “mental retardation”. Some may ask, “what is his purpose?” And I could send you to about 100 people and give you 100 different examples of lives he’s touched, and he doesn’t even talk! Our life with Hunter has been a journey, a journey colored with God’s fingerprints, and of story after story demonstrating God’s grace for this special needs mom.