JOSH + SUSAN FOWLER
Adventure seekers // 15 years of marriage
5 kids // 2 businesses // We like living life to the fullest
This little boy– he’s been on this earth for 3 years and we only found him 8 months ago. During those three years, he’s had 4 major surgeries and countless doctor appointments. $19,000 into this process, we finally got to meet him last week and it was nothing short of amazing. In a few more months, we’ll have him home with us forever and his birth certificate will confirm that we are his parents.
Not to say that last week was easy, though! We traveled with 3 other families to meet their children (which is not typical- usually there’s just one family at a time!). One by one they brought their children to meet them and the little girls immediately snuggled into their daddies arms. But us? Not a chance. They brought Zane in and he screamed and cried, fighting the whole way. He had zero interest in changing up his awesome little life in the orphanage. They call him “The Boss” and he’s quite the celebrity around the orphanage. Meeting us was so far out of his comfort zone that he just couldn’t handle it.That trend continued throughout the week. We visited twice every day. On Monday afternoon he calmed down slightly since we were in his playroom and he felt a bit more comfortable. Tuesday he was inconsolable for both visits. They call trip 1 (the visit we did last week) the bonding visit. By Wednesday we decided to forget about about bonding altogether. I have a background in counseling and childhood development and it was very clear that he will bond easily once we’re at home, but to try and force it during last week was a futile effort and would only hurt him.
So Wednesday consisted of us smiling and not forcing anything. We spent the morning going to get Visa pictures (where he held my hand!) and then the afternoon we spent talking with his doctor and getting all the medical information that we could. His medical file looked like a rough draft of War and Peace. We were hoping to maybe get some photocopies of things and have it translated, but honestly, it would have taken an entire day or more just to do photocopies! We got clarity on a lot of things, and it was wonderful to hear that although he has major medical issues, they are very straightforward.What are his medical issues? When he was born, his esophagus was a road to nowhere– it didn’t connect to his stomach! And what’s more, it did connect to his trachea, which means anything that went down his throat went to his lungs. That is an immediate life threatening emergency! He needed heart surgery, too, but this was even more important than that, so he had it as a newborn. He also had a surgery to open up the outgoing flow of his stomach. Basically, his stomach was connected to the rest of his digestive system but it was blocked off and they had to open that up so food could go through his body. They also put in a feeding tube at the same time, as well as a spit stoma. The spit stoma was something we didn’t fully understand until last week. He is able to swallow, and the spit comes out of a hole in his neck. You can see in some of the pictures there is a big padding underneath his shirt. That padding is actually folded up t-shirts wrapped around his neck to soak up the spit. That’s something we’ll modify when he gets home to make it a bit more comfortable for him. Sometime after he comes home, he’ll have surgery to create an esophagus and connect his mouth to his stomach. Long term? He’s going to be the average, active kid who eats us out of house and home. His big brown eyes will ensure that everyone instantly falls in love with him!He loves accessories and loves shopping with his nurse. That’s another thing– he has a nurse who has been with him since he was a baby. She treats him as a son and there is a very special bond. We may never know who his birth mom is, but we will always tell him about that special nurse.
On Friday we got extra time with him because he was being so good and nice to us, and his orphanage social worker is the most awesome and generous person on the planet (she didn’t have to let us have that extra time!). She wanted us to enjoy some sweet time with him before we left for a few months. At the end of the visit we watched his nurses feed him and then we put him down for a nap. His nurses made us tea (another special treat!) and we talked through our translator. It was a very sweet time. They are so thankful that he has a home and that we are his parents, and that he’ll receive the medical care he so desperately needs. But they’re also sad. They’re giving up a piece of themselves.
It’s so wild to me how everything has worked out so perfectly. Yes, he screamed and cried and protested every single time we came near. But, his specific emotional needs perfectly coincide with our strong points in parenting. We have been studying so much over the last 8 months to prepare for the typical orphan. I knew that the bonding aspect was very much out of my comfort zone and would be a huge challenge. And while it’ll still be a challenge, his biggest needs are my strengths in parenting! This is such a relief. He has a strong personality, and he will fit quite perfectly into our family!