One Family's Success Story

"...Because of St. Vincent Family Center, I have no longer been alone with the
 challenges I have to face. It is as if I have been accepted into the (St. Vincent Family Center) family, as one of their own and I am thankful to all the staff at St. Vincent Family Center for all the support and assistance they have provided to my family."

Yesterday, my first born son, Isaiah, turned 12 years old. I look at him and I am truly amazed at how quickly time flies. I’m also in awe of how far we have made it down a long winding road full of turns and twists and hills that I’ve never expected.

When a child is born, so many people check to make sure there are ten fingers and ten toes so they can know their child is perfect. They do that right after they listen for that first scream that lets everyone know that the heavenly bundle has arrived alive and well ready to breathe the air of this earth.

The months before delivery day had been filled with rocky turbulent days as I was a victim of domestic violence during my pregnancy. But once Isaiah’s entry into this world was marked by his scream and all his precious little fingers and toes were present and accounted for I was just looking forward with hopeful eyes to my new role. I was blessed to be a new mommy of a perfect and beautiful baby boy! On December 14, although Isaiah had been born prematurely, we were released to go home because he was well and perfect. We were ushered out of the hospital doors to face the world alone because I had left Isaiah’s father to escape that abusive relationship. So, I was going forward to raise Isaiah as a single mom and although I was thrilled and wanted to see this as an adventure, I knew I had to muster up all the courage I had to be a single mom.

Well, little did I know that a few days later, the image of my new son being perfect would be turned upside down and shattered along with some of my dreams. As complications began to arise, Isaiah had to be hospitalized and was initially diagnosed with a scary sounding phrase, failure to thrive. So many things started going wrong with him and all I could do is watch and pray. As I sat there in that hospital room rocking chair looking at my once considered perfect baby through those tall steel bars of that crib that looked like a cage to me, I felt so helpless. He was poked, pricked, x-rayed, MRI, spinal tapped over several days and all the many doctors that were assigned to him could conclude for sure was that many serious and life threatening things were wrong with Isaiah, but they weren’t exactly sure what and how to fix them.

At the end of my emotional rope and thinking I was going to breakdown, I got out of that rocking chair and locked myself in the bathroom and cried and praying kneeling on the floor for God only knows how long. Almost unbelievably and miraculously I emerged form that restroom to a steady stream of good reports! Our special gift 12 years ago in 1996 was getting released from that hospital in time to be home for Christmas. So many days in that hospital I thought I was losing Isaiah so when he was given a clean bill of health, I especially rejoiced and cherished Isaiah as my Christmas Miracle because all I wanted in the whole world that year was for my baby to be alive and well and perfect.

But, once again the illusion of perfectness was shattered as the next two years of his life we faced more problems and sicknesses and tests, upon tests. Then, the diagnosis came in the form of a long word I never heard of and some that I had heard of that I found out I was really ignorant about. For example, when I was told Isaiah was autistic, I thought, wasn’t that guy in the movie “Rain Man” supposed to be autistic. I imagined my son rocking nervously saying I am a very good driver, I am a very good driver. Then the doctors said he was retarded and I looked intently at his facial features and eyes because I thought that if he really was restarted he had to have features like Corky, that very talented T.V. show actor that has down’s syndrome. I became angry and wanted to scream at his whole team of doctors.

My son had ten fingers, ten toes, he is perfect! He doesn’t have eyes like Corky! I spent a lot of time in denial and I spent a lot of energy being angry. I didn’t know who to be mad at so I was just systematically mad at everyone. God, Isaiah’s dad for abusing me, the doctors for possibly malpractice or myself because maybe I did something wrong. But after all that anger drained me, I began to see it was a big waste of time to allocate blame.

The fact had to be faced with courage; my son has needs that are special and I have to stop wallowing in self-pity and negativity and rise to face the challenges. From then on, I started to be more actively involved in making sure that my son was getting all the help he needed to thrive, and reach his own potential.

By the time Isaiah moved here in 2005, we had become well acquainted with all the special services he needed such as occupational, physical and speech therapy and sign language instruction. But I began to face another challenge when Isaiah’s behavior became threatening. I didn’t know where to get help or how to deal with him. He was kicking, biting, throwing fits and chairs and spitting. I was pregnant and I feared for the safety of my unborn child as I was put in situations where I had to physically restrain Isaiah. It was an awful time but one day I went to a new church and I struck up a conversation with one of the deaf interpreters. She was the wife of Tom Mitchell and she introduced me to him and at that time he worked for St. Vincent’s.  In no time at all he had me signed up for service here. At the time I was not so sure what St. Vincent’s could do to help me beyond being someplace Isaiah could go after school but it has been a tremendous blessing to my little family in so many ways. Even though we had come so far, I don’t see how we would have made it. Tom and the staff have worked extensively with Isaiah on his behaviors, his emotions and his sign language. In 3 years, he is like a brand new well behaved sweet boy. Not only that but I had a place and people to turn to not only for Isaiah’s special needs but also the needs of my family. St. Vincent has been an invaluable resource and a lot of the staff has treated my little family like their own family.

When I first started dealing with Isaiah’s issues and special needs, I was a single mom. Then I graduated to accepting the fact that I am a single mother of a special needs son. I am reminded of a scripture in the bible that says “God will put the solitary in families”. Because of St. Vincent Family Center, I was no longer alone with the challenges.  It is as if I have been accepted into the “family” as one of their own and I am thankful to all the staff at St. Vincent Family Center for all the support and assistance they have provided to my family.

Kelli,
December 2008

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