Some of you may have noticed I asked for prayer for my friend Michelle’s son Malachi on Facebook. So many of you responded and have asked for an update that I thought it might be good to tell Malachi’s WHOLE story. I had approached Michelle months ago to write out the details of Malachi’s adoption in hopes of sharing it on the blog one day. I realized yesterday that now is the time.
Michelle, Malachi’s Momma, is an single, adoptive Momma to 9 children, all with special needs. I am honored to call her friend. She is a true hero and I have the utmost love and respect for her.
This is a very long post, so I have decided to post it in two parts, but I encourage you to read this entire story and join me in praying for this precious boy and his incredible family.
Story as told to me by Michelle (Malachi’s Momma)
On July 6th of 2008, I took the kids camping in Maine. While we were there I received a phone call from our adoption caseworker. She asked if I would consider taking a 3 year old little girl. It was an emergency placement. I had not intended to adopt again, but prayed about it, said “yes,” and told her that that we would be back on the twelfth to sign the paperwork. When we arrived home on the 12th, she called and said that this little girl had just been placed into another home, and they wanted to keep her. I struggled with this, asking God why would He would ask me do do something, prepare my heart and then take it away. A good friend who was praying with me offered this, “Maybe He just needed to know that you would obey. Maybe He’s just testing you to see if you are still willing to listen, even if it is inconvenient.” Those words resound in my memory still today.
On February 22nd, we went to church as usual, and I sensed God changing the direction of our lives, but nothing specific. I just felt Him pressing me to be willing to change. (I DO NOT like change.) After church, a gentleman from the congregation came up to me and put money in my hand saying, “God told me to give this to you.” It was somewhat awkward, but I thanked him and went home. After I got home, I remembered the money and emptied my pocket. It was a $100.00 bill. I immediately put it into safe keeping and began to pray and ask God to be very specific in telling me what it was for. (Earlier that week I decided to remodel my kitchen so there would be plenty of ways I could have used it.)
On Tuesday afternoon, February 24th, I was eating lunch with friend, and received a phone call from my caseworker, again. She said, “Hey, how about a 7 month old baby boy?” I responded, “How about NO!” She asked why, and I came up with many very good reasons. “Already had 7 kids at home, was sick for 3 months, in the middle of remodeling the kitchen, and I had gotten rid of all of our baby things. Thanks for calling but, NO!” She said, “Well just let me give you the information on him and then you can call me if you change your mind.”
Here’s what she told me: Baby Boy born naturally on JULY 11, 2008. No problems at birth. He had been adopted by another couple but when he started having problem’s they no longer were able to keep him. After many tests, his diagnosed with Quad Cerebral Palsy, encephalmylacia (his brain stopped growing in utero, the ends of it bubbled up like a ring around his head), blind, seizures, and the list went on.
She then said that it would be a private adoption. I asked the cost involved, and she said she would get back to me but asked did this mean I might be interested? I want to say NO, but my heart speaks for me and said, yes, but there are so many financial obstacles, we’ll see. She said that she would have the baby’s caseworker email me his history, and then I could call her if I was interested. At midnight that night, I received all of the information on him and knew that he was to be part of our family. NOT something I wanted, but something I knew that if I said NO, I would regret it when answering to God in the future.
In the morning before the kids left for school, I called them all around the computer and pulled up his picture. They asked who it was, but before I could speak, Noah piped up and said, “HELLO, it’s our new baby brother I have been praying for.” I said, “Noah, why didn’t you tell me you wanted a baby brother?” He said, “Cuz mom, you would have said NO, but I figured God would say YES!” Someone else piped up and said, “When do we get him?” I said, “We may not,” as they all responded, “Your wrong, mom, he’s our brother, and we need to name him.” Nick then said, “He should be Malachi.” I asked why Malachi, and he said, “I don’t know, it just should be.” I looked up the name and meant, “GODS MESSENGER.” Wow, how Mighty is our GOD!
The kids went to school, and I was left to call this caseworker back. When she answered, I identified myself and said that we were interested in this little boy. Her first response was “OH THANK YOU JESUS!” Being an eternal pessimist, I thought, “This is either one very desperate heathen or one very solid Christian.” Come to find out the directors had started this private adoption agency 32 years ago, and Malachi is the first baby they had with special needs. I spoke with her about the costs, and she said that the agency was waiving all of their fees, and that her husband was an attorney and his firm was doing everything pro-bono. The only fees involved would be filing costs with the court. I then asked for a ballpark number so that I could be prepared. She said the fees would be about $100.00. I was in tears, and said, “Ok, tell me everything.” She asked if I wanted to sleep on it or read more material on him. I told her no, I already had all of the information I needed to make THIS decision.
She then explained that the other adoptive family had just called them 10 days prior, and said they changed their mind. They did not want a child that was not typical. The directors immediately took this to their church and every prayer chain they could find. Her prayer was that he would find a home that he would be a blessing and not a burden. After many phone calls and conferences with potential parents of other children with special needs and contacting other agencies that have families looking for children to adopt with special needs, they were coming up dry. She was given the name of my agency from another and that is how I was finally reached.
That was on Thursday morning and I picked Malachi up on Saturday at noon.
Malachi was taking seizure meds, reflux meds, only drinking from 1-2 oz at a time and not spoon feeding at all. He screamed NON STOP! I sat down to do paperwork with S, A continued to make trips to the copy room, and M continued to try and console him. During the paperwork signing, A looked closer as I was signing my name and said, “Hey S, there is a family in our Bible study, choir, and church with that last name.” I asked who it was only to discover it was one of my cousins and their family. Once again, how awesome is our GOD. He had my cousins praying for Malachi, long before we knew he would be in our home.
We got ready to leave and the agency staff and I all stood in the foyer of the law office and prayed over Malachi’s life.
The months that ensued were full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and many of them have been very unpredictable. When we brought him home, he laid stiff for the first 3 days and his eyes stayed back in his head. We cleaned him out (6 diapers of grape sized rocks), regulated the topamax for seizures, started tylenol and motrin, and changed his formula. After a week he seemed much better already. His eyes were not rolled back in his head although he was still very stiff and tight. His eyes seemed to roll around like little ping pong balls. Noah asked what was wrong with him, and I explained his brain was hurt badly for reasons thataht only God knows. Noah then asked if it would ever get any better. I responded with “only if God wants to, He can fix it.” To this day Noah does not walk past him without rubbing his head and saying, “Dear Jesus, please heal Malachi’s brain.”
We immediately began our routine of specialists and interventions. By the time we went to the Peds Opthamologist – He said Malachi had perfect vision. All of the damage that had been caused to his eyes had repaired itself. He still has a significant brain injury, most of it being in the occipital lobes. This is where the brain makes sense of what the eyes are seeing. But at least his eyes have the ability to see.
We went to see the orthopedic doctor because Malachi was born with a back deformity. All of the pieces to his back had not finished growing before he was born and this caused the vertebre to fuse together and cause a large lump on his back. When We got to the doctor’s 3 weeks later with the x-rays, we compared the new x-rays with the old and the doctor said, “I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I probably never will again.” I asked what he meant and he said, look here, in the last three weeks the fused discs have come apart, have grown new cartilage, and the pieces of bone that were missing are now grown in place. When I asked how he would explain this he said, “As I see it, God is not done creating him yet.” This does not happen, but with God, who knows. We were told to bring him back in 6 months, and I then asked what to expect. He said, “Take him home and enjoy him. You have been given a gift…enjoy…enjoy!”
We went to see the peds Neurologist. He reviewed the records that came from Dupont, and just shook his head. By April, our primary physician had weaned him off of all of his seizure meds. He was not having any visible seizures. Once he was off of them, he began to move his arms and legs and have a more contented look on his face instead of the constant look of pain. He explained that given the amount of brain tissue in his skull, which is very minimal, there is no reason that this child is here at all. He said that we should just be thankful for each day, and that he had never seen a case this bad. He told us to come back and see him in 6 months.
We just went back to see him a few months later and near the end of our visit he asked if I would consider staying for an EEG if he could find someone to do it, I agreed. After the EEG, he came back to read it and then came and found Malachi and I sitting in the empty waiting room. He sat down next to me and said nothing (probably not a good sign). I asked if everything was ok. He said “I just need a minute” – not good either. He then took a deep breath and began to explain to me the best he could what was happening in Mali’s brain. He said that he is having MULTIPLE seizures every SECOND. He commented, “I have never in all of my years of practice seen a child with such a profound and traumatic brain injury as this baby…that is still functioning.” He went on to explain that the very small amount of brain matter that is able to function compared to the amount that is damaged is overwhelming, and that the damaged part is causing so much “static and interference” that the good part cannot be heard or make sense of things. We then decided to try to put him on phenobarbatol and see if it calmed the static enough for the crying to stop. He has been like a different child ever since. While I was sitting there listening to him and crying, he asked if I was ok and I said, “Yes…I am just angry.” Dr. Stayer concluded by saying, “You know this child is not who God had originally intended for him to be, but please remember, there is NO reason he should even be here. God has a purpose for this child’s life.”
Through all of the medical records and doctor’s appointments, it was discovered that he has had significant and life threatening injury and we are living on borrowed time.
Malachi slowly began to respond, and though at 16 months he was developmentally around 2-3 months, he was smiling, beginning to make sounds, crying when I would leave the room, began to show limited tracking of objects, and loved to be help by his siblings. He is a constant reminder of God’s grace to us.
Malachi – God’s Messenger – is here for a reason.
….to be continued