Saturday Story Time: Legally Blind

Saturday Story Time: Legally Blind

It had been a whirlwind, from the moment he was diagnosed in the office in Bend to the drive to Portland to see the children’s glaucoma specialist, Scott staying with our three other children, me driving John over the mountain in our huge 79’ red Suburban. Waiting in the lobby, having John take test after test, his anger and defiance and fear all seeping through with daggers into my heart. Life was not fair. You do not survive through starvation, malaria, civil war out your back door, give up your family, home, and everything you know to come to a different country with the chance to have hopes and dreams only to be told you probably won’t be able to see it. That was not how it was supposed to go.

Sitting in the chair, holding John on my lap as we wait for the doctor to confirm our fears about his vision. I remember thinking how bony he still was, six months after his arrival from Liberia. I can remember the office had a distinct vanilla scent to it. I can remember the words surgery, try to save his vision, and then the one that screamed out to me “Legally Blind”. I am not sure what else was said because my plans for my son’s future had just been altered in ways I could not change and had no control over. “Legally Blind” what the hell did that mean?

His whole future passed before me, sports, school, milestones like driving, I am sure the doctor thought I was crazy because the first thing I asked, as I was digesting this news, was would he be able to drive? The kind man just shook his head no, probably not. My grieving process had begun.

John was legally blind. John was not going to get a fairytale ending to his rescue from Africa. We had four children under the age of seven, we had just moved to a new state to start a church. We had no supportive congregation, no family living closer than 3 and half hours and a budget that did not allow for this kind of medical issue. I don’t remember this in the adoption book or the parenting brochure.

I cried many tears that year. Tears of sadness, helplessness, anger, fear, tiredness you name it I cried over it. I cried over my future now that I had a visually impaired child. I cried in complete selfishness and egotistical pride as the “saving act of sacrifice” we had made by adopting these boys was not enough to change the cruel unfairness of John’s vision. I cried that God, who I knew could do miracles would not give John his vision, and what kind of God was that. I cried alone and with my husband. I learned to accept and of course I went on with my daily life.

I have a great family, good friends and four mostly wonderful teenagers. We are thankful for life, a home to live in and food on our table. We are so blessed. John is off to San Diego with his dad and Granpa Darrell to celebrate his sixteenth birthday gift. They will go to see the Baltimore Ravens play against the San Diego Chargers. John will have an amazing experience. He is very blessed, but he won’t be getting his drivers license.

Ten years later I still cry at the un-justness of it all. I still pray for a miracle, I still go on with my daily life. I have come to terms with the realization that my grieving for his vision will never end. My heart will always ache for him to see the world without a vision impairment, to be the starter on the basketball team with his brothers, and to not have to be so angry. I cry for my self, for John, for our family and for the world. Then I get up and go on, because, that I guess, is the only thing I can do. Most days that is enough.


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