As a handicapped boy grows, so do his parents
By Amie Hardt
“Most days I wish I had never even kept you. You are such a burden in my life!”
I was 15 years old when I heard a mom yell this at her special needs daughter. I worked with special needs kids all through high school, and it broke my heart to see how awfully even their own parents treated the kids.
Hearing this mom say such hurtful things to her daughter really bothered me. That night I talked with my parents about what I could do, and they encouraged me to just keep loving every one of the children I worked with. When I went to bed I asked God to please one day give me a special needs child, because I would love him or her no matter what. I told my husband, David, about my prayer before we were married 11 years ago. He said that if that was God’s plan for us then God would give us all the strength we needed to make it through.
God waited seven years to answer my prayer. March 11, 2001, David and I were blessed with a little boy we named Jacob. When Jacob took his first breath his underdeveloped throat collapsed, and he turned blue. The number of people in our room doubled, and we were instantly frightened. But we can honestly say we felt Jesus there in that room with us.
It took the doctors sometime to figure out Jacob’s situation. He was in the hospital for three months before he came home. As brand new parents we were scared to death, but we knew God was doing a great work in us, trusting us with such a gift. There were some very hard days and some seemingly unbearable nights. But God revealed himself to us in more ways than I can count.
There were times after Jacob’s birth that I regretted my prayer. I wondered if my prayer caused this, or if it was my fault that Jacob suffered so much. Because of Jacob’s handicaps we have had many challenging times—with Jacob and in our marriage. But as Jacob has grown, so have we.
Today Jacob is a third grader, attending a regular mainstream school where he is in special education and has a nurse and a sign language interpreter to assist him. He has had nine major operations and almost died three times. He is deemed deaf but has partial hearing in his left ear. He is clinically diagnosed with a midline disorder, meaning that Jacob has a lot of complications in the midline of his body.
I could go on and on about all of his medical stuff, but what I really want you to know and wish you could see is Jesus in this little boy. You can’t be around Jacob for too long without realizing the miracle that he is. Everyday is a gift because we have Jacob, and he shows us how to appreciate the simple things in life and how to love every moment—even the hardest moments because that’s where we see Jesus most clearly.
God has also blessed uswith another miracle—Jacob’s sister, Taylor. Many of Jacob’s doctors didn’t think it would be wise to have more children since Jacob’s complications could be genetic. And when Taylor was born four years ago she was five weeks early and had trouble breathing. So we came again home from the hospital without our baby. Taylor was only in the hospital for two weeks; her little lungs just needed more time to develop.
I can’t begin to explain what a gift it is to have a child with special needs. God has blessed our family immeasurably, and he continues to teach us and grow us through the circumstances he has blessed us with. I hold fast to Psalm 62:5-8: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
Amie Hardt lives in Bakersfield, Calif., where she and her husband, David, lead a couple’s Bible study at The Bridge Bible Church, a daughter congregation of Amie’s home congregation, Laurelglen Bible Church. Hardt is fluent in sign language, has been a short-term mission volunteer and enjoys coffee with friends.