But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16
Your people will be my people…….
Aggie (named after the adorable baby in Nanny McPhee) Ruth (as we are her people) Ann (after my amazing mother)……sort of snuck into our lives. There were many crazy things going on all around us when I got the call asking if we would take her in. We had just moved into a new house the previous month, we had a one year old who was mobile and into everything, a 3 year old who desperately wanted to be with her bio mother and acted out accordingly (and justifiably), a 5 year old who suffers from major Post Traumatic Stress (and Autism, but we didn’t have a definitive diagnosis of that yet), a 17 year old homeschooler, a 19 year old starting out in the career world, and 2 dogs. Life was hectic! Yet, we knew that we were where God wanted us to be so we answered the call.
We all went to the hospital to pick her up (except DJ, because he was working) and the little ones were so excited. I was most anxious to get to her…….the agency had called me soon after she was born, but because I would not be the official foster mom until we could physically take her home, the hospital wouldn’t let me visit her…..so I had been sick with worry the 6 days that she lay in that hospital alone!
Casey went into the nursery with me to meet her and get her ready to bring home. As our family ministry, we felt this would be a huge life experience for her to see what drugs can do to a young person’s life and the life of an innocent baby. Aggie was born drug exposed and weighed only 4 pounds even though she was full term. Although I brought Casey with me so that she could gain insight into a tragic lifestyle, I myself was not prepared for what Aggie looked like.
She simply looked starved. All of those gut-wrenching commercials that you see of the kids who are starving in third world countries…..she looked just like them. She shook like JoJo did when he was born, but instead of the plump and soft body that he possessed, Aggie was all bones and skin stretched too tight. Casey tried to keep her face neutral, but I could see that she was scared to death. We both were. Oh gracious God, here we go again…..but with His strength, we were ready to step up to the task.
For the next 2 months we lived in fear……not of Aggie being taken from us by birth parents or relatives, but of Aggie’s fragile health. It took hours and hours to feed her, and no sooner than she finally finished a bottle, she was starving for another. It took all of her energy to eat, she barely slept, she threw up almost everything she ate, she had fits of reflux that would cause her to turn as red as a tomato and quit breathing. She couldn’t take being held closely or being swaddled. Holding her was like holding a glass baby, one who cried out in pain and agony. I wore her whenever I could get her comfortable enough, but she was only at peace when she fell into an exhausted sleep. Dave would help with feedings throughout the night and in the mornings, Casey would help with some of the daytime feedings, and even DJ would help feed her when he was home. Our peds nurse, Jenn, and our family friend who is a NICU nurse, Jackie, was our lifeline to sanity in her feedings and medical care…..I am not sure we could have survived without their constant guidance and support!
At 2 months old she flipped out of her Moses basket which was resting on our ottoman……babies that age normally don’t do that……and soon after, she was rolling over constantly. The throwing up, gagging and gasping for air caused her to have high muscle tone and she was incredibly strong. Her little body was always ridged and tense so when the pain came she could lift her head, flip over, and lift up on her arms. It was a scary sight to see such a tiny baby do those sort of physical feats so young, yet she could barely lift her limbs otherwise. Physical therapy began as she was developmentally delayed physically and had to be taught how to sit up, to grasp, to crawl, to stand and to walk. What comes naturally for other babies, our sweetling had to be trained to do. It was agonizing to watch her have to go through all of this.
Yet, therein lies the shining beauty in the terrible mess that her birth mother’s choices created. At three months, she smiled. Through all the horrible things we had witnessed this child endure, one day she just smiled……and has never stop smiling since. Even after hours of crying and vomiting and gagging, she would smile up at me when the anti-spam meds and breathing treatments would kick in. Her smile is infectious. Her will to overcome and to achieve is monumental. She couldn’t sit up until she was almost 10 months old, but she would try over and over again until she finally mastered it…..same with all of her delayed milestones. She has cleared every hurdle with a determination that gives us a glimpse of the grace and love that Jesus has for His children.
She was destined to be determined. She is a walking, babbling, drooling and smiling testament of God’s Will be done. There is really no other reason that this little cherub survived the repeated attempts to abort her, the addiction to drugs, the consequences of those drugs in her ill-equipped system. God meant for her to live, to survive, and eventually thrive.
And thrive she has……as a matter of fact, if you looked up ‘thrive’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of our little Aggie Ruth-Anne.
The visits with her family softly faded away after Aggie was 9 months. We are still in contact with her aunt who genuinely cares for her, but could only take in Aggie’s older brother (who is only a year older). Unlike Aiden and JoJo’s adoption, there was no last minute fanfare of worrying and wondering……her adoption was quietly completed in November. Aggie’s mother had expressed from the very beginning that she wanted us to adopt her, and although she is in jail now, I can only pray that she is at peace that we did.
So, our quiver has another arrow, one more shot to glorify God and bring His light into the world. We now have 3 amazing sons and 2 beautiful daughters……Praise God. These last 5 years have been some of the most brilliant and darkest days of our lives, yet through it all we came out of it with precious gems. I can honestly say from the bottom of our hearts that fostering children is one of the hardest jobs in the entire world, but if that is true, actually being a foster child and being children who share their homes with foster children has to be harder. Through great loss from their families and from the children themselves, we have gained 2 more sons and another daughter……our two biological children have also shared their parents, their home and their lives in order to make room for these babies……to say that we are honored to be all of their parents just doesn’t seem to say enough.
Welcome to the family sweet girl……….and thank you Jesus for the strength and grace we have needed on this journey.