Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This week's "bee"-ography comes to us all the way from Israel, from another amazingly wonderful adoptive mommy to Natan Shai, Hannah:
Our story started back in 2006 when my husband Naor and I decided that we would like to be a foster family to a special needs baby. 

We had been strongly influenced by our good friends Chaya and Israel Ben Baruch who are foster/adoptive parents to four Down Syndrome children.

We decided that God had blessed us with 5 beautiful, healthy children and we wanted to give something back. So we applied and waited, not knowing exactly what the future would bring. We waited and waited and nothing seemed to happen as fast as we had expected.

My oldest daughter had her Bat Mitzvah, or 12th birthday, so I decided to take her in August 2007 to Rabbi Nachman's grave in Uman as her birthday gift and also to Rabbi Natan. These are extremely holy places in the Ukraine where many Jews gather to pray. The first night there I had a very extraordinary dream (I NEVER remember any of my dreams usually). I dreamt that I was on a small fishing boat and there was a woman next to me whom I didn't look at. We caught hundreds of fish and then I saw a HUGE one, much bigger than any of the rest and took it to myself. Thereafter I woke up, and I felt as if this dream had really happened, it was unbelievably real. I told everybody that was there about the dream, but nobody knew what it was all about. So the five day vacation ended and we headed back to Israel, I still had this dream in my head.

About three months later, in November, we got a call from the Social Services saying that there was a baby boy who had been abandoned at birth in a nearby hospital. We got the call on the Monday, visited on the Tuesday and took him home on the Wednesday……….yes a three day pregnancy! Luckily I still had lots of baby things from my own kids, my youngest at that time being only four years old. 
 It was SO exciting for all of us.We didn't even ask any questions, and were told only that he wasn’t going to be normal, even though he looked just like a regular baby. We were also told that he was born prematurely (900 grams) and has hydrocephalus (whatever that was!) and that we would have to find out about giving him a shunt. - We didn't have a clue what any of this meant. So happily we took him home and a week later it was Chanukah. 
At this time my husband said "Why don't we see what we were doing when Natan Shai was born?" and went to look curiously on the calendar. Lo and behold Natan Shai was born on the 10th August 2007, the EXACT same day as I had the dream when we arrived in Uman. He was the 'big fish' and the woman sitting next to me was his biological mother whom I have never met. As he had not yet been circumcised according to Jewish tradition, we gave him his Brit Mila (circumcision) and called him Natan Shai. – Natan for the name of Rabbi Natan where we had just been when he was born and Shai because this was the only request his biological mother had given, that he be called Shai. Together Natan Shai means 'Given Gift'
Right after the holiday we took him to a Neuro Surgeon in Haifa, about 100kms away from Safed our hometown, to find out about getting a shunt. As soon as the Doctor saw the papers he said "Do you realize what you have taken upon yourselves? This child would have gone to an institution if you hadn't taken him". We still didn't have a clue what he was talking about and we were still in such an euphoric state about receiving this beautiful little boy that nothing mattered anyway. He scheduled Natan Shai's shunt operation for the following week and sent us home. 
The shunt operation was a big success and reduced the size of Natan Shai's head considerably. Within 4 or 5 days we were home. Besides the obvious difference in the size of his head he also seemed much more alert and his eyes which were always going to one side appeared to be centralized. But he started crying A LOT. These crying periods actually lasted approximately a year and a half! Day and night! When I look back it is amazing that we didn't actually crack up! But we loved little Natan Shai so much that everything seemed possible and we knew everything would work out. Our whole family had become totally attached to him, and everybody helped out. 
About two weeks after the shunt operation Natan Shai developed streptococcus in the blood (probably got it during the op). And was extremely sick, vomiting and very high fever. He was hospitalized for about a month and put on a very strong anti-biotic via his veins. The poor guy hardly had veins and they had to keep moving the IV – it was a nightmare. He was so weak, but trying so hard to survive. At some point the head doctor of the children's ward came to visit and basically told me in no uncertain terms that anyway he wouldn't grow and neither would his brain, and that he would (God forbid) die within a year anyway. I was in shock. Total and utter SHOCK. 
Well, we finally got released and sent home. Around about this time I finally decided one scarce quiet evening when everyone was sleeping to search on the internet and find out what exactly the words on the hospital release papers were. That’s when I found the word 'Hydranencephaly'. I googled it and got to the 'Rays of Sunshine' website. I sat opposite the computer and started to cry and cry, I felt so sorry for little Natan Shai. Then I started to read more information and really look at the pictures and come to terms with Natan Shai's diagnosis. I remember looking at Brennan and thinking that he looks great, and we can do this! The pictures and the stories gave me hope somewhere inside the shock and disbelief that I was feeling. Then I got in touch with the R.O.S. group and met Ali and other great friends. 

So here we are approaching Natan Shai's fourth birthday and I can honestly say that he is the best thing that ever happened to us. He has taught our family so much and continues to give us so much light and happiness. Despite all of his disabilities he is the happiest, purest soul I have ever met. He radiates love and positive energy with no end. (Besides when he's screaming all night … l.o.l.) There are no words to describe how I feel to be so privileged as to be his Mum. It is like trying to describe to someone who never saw a rainbow or the Northern Lights what it looks like.
Natan Shai is very aware and knows faces and names of the family members. He as strong preferences and understands much more than he is sometimes given credit for. 
 He is in kindergarten everyday where he gets his treatments, and is, thank God doing great. He is still tiny for his age and we are at this point in time contemplating giving him a G-tube. He suffers from seizures since he was about two and is on medication which for the most part seems to help. He has a great quality of life and is loved by everyone who meets him. He joins us on all our family trips and we couldn't imagine life without him.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love to hear from our audience - share your comments with us here or join us on Facebook!