What do you do when you adopt a child that is later diagnosed with autism? You do exactly what Jenn Lynn and her husband Chris did when their adopted son, Jake, was diagnosed with ASD. You stay "miracle minded" and raise your child to be the super hero they were meant to be! Read more about their families amazing journey in Jenn's own words. ~ Mary Bailey
Ours wasn’t the conventional way to make a family.
There was no nine-month nesting period. We’d been trying for years, faced unthinkable heartache again and again, and then gave up.
There was no weight-gain, only binge-drinking wine, and carb loading at the news of each failure.
There were no labor and delivery pains as most know them. Ours was a labor of the heart. In fact, we weren’t even there for the birth of our son, nor did we know it had even happened!
Meeting our son Jacob, at his foster family’s home was surreal. We had all but given up our hopes of a child after numerous miscarriages, fertility hell, and a previous failed adoption. Now, we had a three-day notice before becoming parents and it was GO time.
He was sound asleep, barely opened his eyes upon our first meeting, couldn’t have cared less actually, but something remarkable was noted. His skin was fair, nails long, lips perfect. The foster mother shared that delivery nurses said this baby was special, touched by the blessed Mother Mary herself.
They had never seen anything like the perfect heart centered right between his eyes. All that met him took notice. It wasn’t the usual “stork bite” earned from a challenging delivery, or a permanent birthmark in the pigment. This heart would appear and disappear with the heightening of his emotions. As he cried or grew frustrated that heart would appear red, then fade when needs were met. (Still works to this day too!)
As years progressed, we noticed a super high activity level. At 1 ½ years old he was running, pushing a 4-wheeled toy, 2 miles a day. He’d go nonstop up and down the hills of the neighborhood, running through the bottoms of his toddler shoes every 4 weeks. We would buy 4 pairs of the exact same size shoes.
His need for movement, meltdowns if he couldn’t, and need for control led us to an early private preschool. After being surrounded in a classroom of kids the first time, our little superman chewed his fingernails off, pounded those little pegs through the board and learned to spin everything in his path!
Diagnosis of PDD-NOS shortly followed. We were sad at first, yes we cried and talked, and cried again. But when you adopt a baby, you really have no expectations to begin with. I’m not saying it was easy to move directly into action to get help, but we did so without delay, denial, and guilt.
Within weeks of his 3rd birthday, intensive therapy and school began. We’d run a mile in the morning, do homeschool activity, nap, eat, and then get on the bus for afternoon special-needs preschool. We discovered his needs at this age were so great, we enrolled in OT, speech, swimming, gym classes, and anything else that would allow him to use his body in every way possible.
To prevent him from ever thinking badly of his autism, we always told him he had Autism Super Powers. He could see things we couldn’t see, hear things we couldn’t hear, feel things we never noticed, and do things physically we could only dream of. To this day he can walk into a room and feel the mood of the room.
So many comments have been made about Jake’s constant activity, lightning fast brain, our blended family, his great looks, 52-zillion texture hair, need for control and acceptance, that nothing fazes us anymore.
Blogging became the best way to document his amazing life, but also to help parents coming up behind us. In writing and discussing the stories with Jake, I’ve discovered what our family believes to be his purpose on this earth. He’s here, as all ASD children are, to teach us to be better humans.
The baby with the miraculous heart teaches patience, perseverance, and pride.
Jake can put his emotions into words, explain feelings, and pinpoint what fear feels like inside his head. He craves conversation, wants all the answers and perfect plans for the future, and he’s only 12 years old. He can articulate to adults how people with Autism need to be treated, and what scares him/them. He has given the voiceless, a voice!
I’m not saying every day is rosy - it’s not by a long-shot, but our family chooses to be miracle minded, celebrate simple milestones, and help others. This teeny “high-risk” baby with the heart between his eyes may truly be gifted by God, and he’s on track to change the world!