Adopting an aging out son can sound pretty terrifying to most. Of course, adopting a child in a wheelchair probably sounds equally scary!
We are grateful for the privilege of sharing the story of our son in hopes that others will see that although teenagers and wheelchairs aren’t without their own unique challenges, we wouldn’t trade this son in a wheelchair for anything!
But before I get started, I have a little confession to make. After bringing him home, the name “Vernon” just wasn’t working for many reasons (none of which really matter). So we talked to our son about it and he happily agreed to make “Vernon” his middle name and make “John” his first name. We call him either John Vernon or Johnny. Personally I usually call him Johnny-boy as it sounds so endearing to my soul. Believe it or not, Johnny told us that in China he was called “John” by some. Imagine that?! Hence, I hadn’t mentioned him for awhile because I needed to tell you all that we changed his name.
Of course, changing his name to John Vernon confirms that although Dw and I try hard, we just don’t always get it right!
Anyway, we are loving being on vacation in our old stomping grounds and hanging out with family and friends we have missed so much. This past Sunday we spent the day with my brother and his wife and their grown kids having a mini family reunion. The next day my sister-in-love, Mary, was commenting that she and my brother think our John Vernon is “an angel”. She meant it sincerely. Although they had been around him last year some, this year they have had more opportunity to hang out with him. They have found him to be kindhearted, tender, loving, gentle and thankful. While at their home the other day, Johnny rode his wheelchair all over their back acre for hours. He repeatedly told them how much he loved their home and their yard and several times he thanked them for having us all over.
Actually, our Johnny’s usually the first to say, “Thanks mom and dad for such-n-such.” He thanks us for his meal, for making the food, for the opportunity to go anywhere – actually everything and anything! He even thanks us for the chores he has to do! “Thank you for letting me clean the table.” Seriously. His heart oozes with thankfulness.
Which really makes me wonder: Could it actually be that kids who wait, hope and long for a family, understand better than the rest of us what thankfulness really means? Doing without the essentials (family, love, belonging, being wanted) for many, many years has helped them appreciate everything, even the little things – like the joy of doing chores!! No doubt, that is something worth pondering!!
So for all those wondering how he really is doing – Johnny, who came home just before he turned 14 is thriving, flourishing and loving life!! He loves family. He is thoughtful and an amazing prayer warrior. He asks regularly about people we are praying for and he shows concern for people walking through heartache.
His love for others is truly remarkable. He has a total blast with his siblings. He makes me laugh regularly.
Obviously, there were adjustments over the last 16 months, but nothing extraordinary and nothing that talking didn’t resolve. Pretty much, Johnny just “goes with the flow” and smiles and thanks us for everything. That’s it. One smiley, thankful, now 15-year-old son. Seriously. We could have missed this.
He happily gives his brothers (or Birdie) a little lift on family walks. He laughs and laughs as they jump on.
Johnny’s really one incredible son, brother, nephew, grandson and friend. We couldn’t imagine our lives without him.
To all the doubters, I wish you could meet him and hang out with him. Or have you be a fly on our wall (of course I actually am not a fan of flies, so consider yourself warned if I grab the fly-swatter!)
But I would sincerely love you to see for yourself. We could have missed this. We could have looked at the wheelchair and the need and felt overwhelmed. We could have thought that an almost 14-year-old would be too hard. But we would have missed this incredible human being who thanks us for his chores and smiles all day and it would have truly been our loss. He has brought us tremendous joy and reminded us all over and over of all the things we have to be thankful for.
And for the record, why should we have all the fun? I just happen to know of another young man, in a wheelchair and about to age out, who desperately is praying for a family. His name is Philip (pictured below). Philip even has a $10,000 grant!! If you are interested in knowing more: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Philip