Thursday, August 19, 2010

He's My Son

On January 27th, 2002, Eric and I decided to pursue the adoption of Nguyen Duc Tuan, then waiting in Hung Yen, Vietnam. We weren't looking for our son. We didn't plan for him to be from Vietnam. But he was our son. This photo was taken in February 2002, when Samren was about 4 months old. He was 13.5 pounds.
Our adoption of Samren went faster than any international adoption I've ever heard of before or since. He legally became our son two months later, on March 27th, 2002. We didn't know why we were so blessed with a quick adoption, but the Lord had his reasons. He was home by April 12, 2002--the day this picture was taken. 12 pounds.
From the time we took Samren into our arms, he couldn't eat well. He didn't have a good suck. We tried every bottle under the son. He also threw up--dozens of times a day. By the time we got him home he was down to 12 pounds. By the time this picture was taken in June, Samren was about the same weight, except 12 pounds at 7 months old isn't so great.
By December 2002 we knew there were issues, but we didn't know what they were. Why didn't our baby gain weight? Why did he throw up all the time? It wasn't allergies. It wasn't anything our pediatrician could figure out. Failure to Thrive, with no know cause. Dear Lord, help our baby.By the end of the year Samren was a shadow of the baby we had brought home from Vietnam. He slept a lot. When he wasn't sleeping, he was trying to eat (unsuccessfully) and then throwing up whatever he managed to eat. The burden of being a mother and not being able to provide my child with the most basic of needs (food) made me feel like a complete failure. I was powerless to save my child, and the doctors wouldn't listen.
Finally, in January 2003, Samren got a bug that caused him to projectile vomit. His body wasn't strong enough to take it. He was deteriorating quickly and our pediatrician FINALLY admitted him to the hospital, for what we thought would be a one day stay.
After 16 days in the hospital, multiple specialists and even more tests, we knew no more than the day he was admitted. The doctors put in an NG tube, feeding him Pediasure very tiny amounts of food for 24 hours a day. Still yet, he threw up the Pediasure. His stomach wouldn't empty. The food just stayed there until it regurgitated. We were sent home with a "Sometimes we just don't know what's going on. This is the best we can do."
This is my baby at 15 months old, and 14.1 pounds. "Nothing else we can do" was not good enough! The feeding tube helped some. Getting him on an amino-acid formula (no proteins for him to have to digest) helped more. But my baby still vomited dozens of times a day. He was still failing.
Long, hard nights for sweet Samren, as he had to sleep with braces on his hands (so he wouldn't pull out his tube), and deal with vomiting every few hours. My husband and I will never forget the smell of Neocate formula vomit. Never.
Still, Samren was able to keep down SOME of the neocate. That allowed him to begin to develop again. He said his first word at 16 months---O-U! (as in OU Sooners). He began to smile and play more. He was coming back.
This picture was taken in April 2003 when he was about 17 months old. His Easter outfit was size 3/6 months. =-)
I never gave up trying to figure out what was wrong. In June we discovered Dr. Phillip Putnam at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. We made the first of several trips to Cincinnati Ohio, with confidence that if ANYBODY could help Samren, it would be Dr. Putnam.
See the chubby cheeks? This was in August 2003. After ruling out many rare disorders, Dr. Putnam diagnosed Samren with Autoimmune Enteropathy (which is a generic turn for lots of diseases that are so rare they don't have individual names). One in a billion--Autoimmune Enteropathy. Little is known, but studies show that about 20% of the children with this disease don't make it past 10 years old. Most don't make it to adulthood.
By October 2003 Samren had been on a course of medications meant to destroy his immune system. His immune system saw any protein as an invader and tried to destroy the invader. This is why he was wasting away. High dosage of prednisolone (60mg a day--10 times more than Eric takes for his kidney transplant), an autoimmune drug called Prograf (another one Eric takes) and Bactrim, an antibiotic HIV patients take to protect themselves from PCP Pneumonia. Samren had to wear a medical mask when out in public, which caused people (that didn't know us) to walk the other direction. It never occurred to them that it was THEM that was a threat to Samren! See how puffy his cheeks are? Prednisolone has that effect in high dosages. One of many side effects Samren had to endure.
Christmas 2003 was a joyous occasion! Unlike the year before, Samren was thriving! He was living on an amino-acid formula. No other foods or drinks. That was rough on a young two year old, but he never complained. He took his medicine like a pro, and dutifully drank his formula while everybody else enjoyed the yummy foods of the season. By his birthday in November we added one protein source--potatoes. Samren enjoyed a potato birthday cake, and some sort of potato something each and every day. Nothing could be added to the potatoes beyond sugar or salt.
In early 2004 we got what we thought would be the best we could hope for--REMISSION! Very few kids with his disease ever went into remission, but the Lord used Dr. Putnam to help Samren get to that point. We got to add two more proteins to his diet--chicken and apples. HUGE! Samren was still on a very heavy medicine regimen. It was made very clear to us that remission might be short-lived and that he would always have the disease. He would always need the medicines, even though we might be able to go down on dosages.
In May 2004 Samren was doing wonderfully. He was happy and healthy. He still lived off of the amino acid formula, but also had the joy of eating chicken, potatoes, and apples in small quantities. Life was as good as we thought it could ever be for him, baring a miracle.

And then...a miracle. In August 2004, at my in-laws church, a member had a "word of knowledge." The member stood up and said that someone in the room was meant to receive healing today. This isn't uncommon in an Assembly of God church. My body's reaction was. I come from a conservative Baptist background. We don't "do" dancing in the isles and "Holy Ghost Fire!" LOL! But when that woman said those words, the Lord took control of my body. There was no conscious decision on my part to walk up the isle. My legs just went, as I carried Samren in my arms. My body began to shake. I felt heat running through my hands to my baby. People laid hands on us to claim the healing the Lord had declared would happen. The whole thing took about 5 minutes. When it was done, I knew my son had been healed. Not just healed through the medications and special foods--but completely and utterly healed.
We left church that day, and Samren never took another drink of the amino acid formula. He enjoyed Sunday dinner with the rest of us--whatever he wanted to eat. All medications stopped immediately. And we have never looked back except to give our thanksgiving to the Lord for healing our son. There has been no hint of the disease since that day.
As I drove home this morning our song for Samren came on the radio. This song came out just before he came into our lives. Each time it is on, Eric and look at each other, squeeze hands, cry tears, and thank the Lord again for saving our son.
Mark Shultz--He's My Son
Today as I heard this song there were other parents and sons on my mind. People who are right now crying out to the Lord, "Can you hear me? Am I getting through tonight? Do you see him? Can you make him feel all right?" L&C, B&J, W&P, and many others. Maybe your son isn't experiencing a life-threatening disease but you are still crying out at night for the Lord to protect him, and to bring him near to you. I'm praying for your sons (and daughters) who are fighting for life or soon to be redeemed by the miracle of adoption. He does hear you. He is comforting your little ones. He's not just anyone. He's your son.


Cindy 11:33 AM  

Just a beautiful post Anita. Thanks for sharing it!

Cora 12:31 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing! You have a beautiful son and I am so happy that he was healed so completely.

The Last Crusade 1:35 PM  

Never read a blog post that made me cry before. Wow. Thanks for sharing.

Mommy to the Monsters 6:23 PM  

Praise God! I really enjoyed reading that!

Amy 7:08 PM  

Such an amazing story Anita! Made me cry too!


Lois 9:06 PM  

Thank you for sharing Samrens miracle!

Robin Dodd Photography 8:03 PM  

Oh Sammy!!! What an amazing story. He is a miracle and such a cute one... thank you for sharing this.