So many people ask me the same questions about James's history and such, I figured I should just write a blog about it, in case you were wondering but haven't asked.
James was born December 26, 2008 in Mambajoa on Camiguin Island in the Philippines. His mother was single, young, and poor. The father was never in the picture. James was born at 35 weeks and weighed just about 3 pounds. He had a cleft palate that no one discovered until Diane met him at 3 months old. Up to that point he lived with mom and grandma, with grandma being the primary caretaker. James was super sick as an infant. His mother and grandmother did not have money for formula most of the time, and because of his cleft palate he could not nurse. When they could not afford formula or powdered milk, they fed sweet baby sugar water. As a result he had frequent gastrointestinal problems, plus respiratory problems. He had asthma for the first year or so of his life and had pneumonia at least once. When Diane met James he was in the ER for some illness, but grandma didn't have money to pay the doctor or buy the needed medicine. She wanted Diane to take James then, but Diane and Tom were about to travel to the States for several weeks. Long story short, two months later James was still not well and the situation at home had not changed. Diane tried to help grandma take care of James, but she could not read and therefore could not give him his medication properly, nor did she feed him correctly for a cleft palate. So at five months of age, James's birth mother signed over custody of her son and he came to live with Tom and Diane. He weighed a mere 5 pounds and was still very sick. They took excellent care of him and nursed him back to health, through many illnesses and I'm sure sleepless nights. All their accounts of him say that even as sick as he was, he was still a very pleasant and happy baby. Around age one, one of the nurses who took care of him during the day noticed that he no longer responded to sounds or to his name being called. He was diagnosed with a double ear infection, but the doctor wanted to wait until all the fluid was gone before testing his hearing, to see if that was the problem. A few months later nothing had improved, so a hearing test called an ABR was done. It showed profound deafness in both ear. Basically that means James hears nothing, not even at the loudest decibels.
At 13 months old, James had surgery to repair his cleft palate. He continued to grow and develop well, eventually meeting all major milestones, even though he didn't walk until he was almost 2!
Without going into tons of detail, I really can't explain to you just how sick he was. We have medical reports from every doctor visit, every medication he was given for every illness, and it's a long list. But eventually he did get stronger and healthy, and Diane told me she couldn't remember the last time he'd even had a fever. Coming home I was worried that he would pick up every bug around, but so far all he's had is a stuffy nose. Which he doesn't know how to blow, I might add. He really is very healthy, even though we have some other issues we are dealing with. I am so thankful that the Lord put James in Diane's path that day, and that he had people caring for him from such an early age. She tried to send him to an orphanage, but no one would take him because of his cleft palate.
Looking at all the pictures she sent home with us, I realized just how many caretakers James has had. Yes, Tom and Diane were always constant, but he did have a variety of nurses and nannies along the way. I'm still not sure he gets the concept of "mom and dad" as he will sometimes sign them at random times for any ol' person he sees. But he'll get it eventually :)
James did go to day care/preschool for a short time in Camiguin, but I'm not really sure for how long, or what they did there. In January of last year he had a hernia repaired. He had the hernia as a baby, but it went away on its own until it reappeared at the end of 2011.
I think that answers all the questions I typically get asked, but if there's anything else you want to know, feel free to ask. The first time I read James's file, one of my first thoughts was, "Wow, God has really had his hand on this little guy. He shouldn't be in such good shape, or even alive, given how sick he was." But alive he is, and I pray that he will come to know the Lord, and the plan for his life. Because surely there is a great one. Several times since we've been home, different people have said the same thing to me at different times. I don't know yet what it will be, or how he'll get there, but I know God did not bring him this far and into our family to leave him to fend for himself. Despite all my shortcomings and failings as a parent, Heavenly Father is taking care of my rooster right along with me.