Only Child – Created for a Purpose

We did not plan on having an only child. I wanted 2. He wanted 4. So, we figured we’d probably end up with 3. But, after Javan was born, he didn’t sleep through the night for over 4 years! And I don’t mean he got up once and stumbled into my room…I mean he was up 8-10 times every night. And I was not going to have another baby until he had some semblance of a “sleep pattern.” And then, as he grew and developed, we began to see how different he was than “other kids.” Some things that were just “normal baby stuff” were still around long after his peers had outgrown them. Once we learned about his diagnoses and that they both have strong genetic components, we decided that unless God breaks out the megaphone and demands that we reproduce immediately, we’re not gonna.

We ran into one of Hubby’s high school friends at a restaurant tonight (We were sans Javan. It’s Hubby’s birthday!), and she asked about our son. When she learned that he is almost five, she asked if we were planning to add to the family. Upon hearing that we want to keep our family just the way it is, her eyes bugged and she declared that we have to have another one! She hated being an only child! I explained to her why we didn’t think it wise to have another baby. I told her we had a special needs child and he needed our full devotion and parental energy. That’s the short version. Here’s the full version:

If we do, and the baby succumbs to the same genetic tendencies that caused Javan’s illnesses, we will have to look that child in the eye one day and say, “We knew that this would probably happen to you. We knew that you might suffer this way.” I don’t think that’s fair. “Don’t be such a pessimist,” you say. Well then, let’s assume that our next child would be perfectly neurotypical. Javan’s issues (communicative, emotional, physical, sensory…) determine where we can go and what we can do. Many parents say, “But you can’t allow a child to run your life!” Well, some of us don’t get a choice. If he can’t handle fireworks, we don’t go to the fourth of July celebration downtown. If he can’t handle the noise and commotion of going to the movies, we don’t see the new kid’s releases until they come out on DVD. You get the picture. But do you think his younger, neurotypical sibling would understand? No. And they shouldn’t have to. I don’t want to tell that child, “I’m sorry. We can’t go to Disney World because there’s too much auditory and visual stimulation for your brother.” or “I know I promised you I’d take you to the movies, but your brother’s melt down can’t wait. It’s happening now. I have to keep him from hurting himself.” That’s not fair either.

I fear for what will happen to Javan after we’re gone. It would be nice to have a built-in caregiver who loves and understands him. But that’s no reason to bring a child into the world. I will just have to trust in God that Javan will continually improve until independent living is fully possible. God has good material to work with: Javan is smart, creative, loving, and so many other wonderful things that God can use to build him into the man that He created him to be. A wise friend recently told me, “God has a purpose for Javan. He made him this way for a reason. You may never know when it is, but there is a specific time and a specific place that Javan is the only one who can do what he is made to do. He is not an accident.” Our kids are different. They’re challenging. It’s painful to watch them suffer and to know that that suffering will not be relieved on this earth. But, there is a purpose.

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