Today marks a very special day. In the doctor’s eyes, this special day was never supposed to happen. Nor were the six before it. Today is my daughter’s seventh birthday. At seven years old, Allie is full of herself. And, rightly so, because she has come a very long way.
We originally met Allie when she was 4 months old. We are foster parents and she was in the pediatric intensive care at a hospital over an hour from where we live. Right after she was born, she developed what is called “short gut” syndrome. Due to lack of oxygen, her intestines started to die. Her birth mom smoked a lot so delivery would not be so painful, but it was devastating to the baby. After several surgeries, the doctors had removed around eighty percent of both her large and small intestines.
Allie came to live with us at around six months of age. The doctor at the hospital told us she was very sick and she didn’t expect the baby to live more than three weeks. I won’t go into what my wife told that lady doctor. We took her home and treated her as if she were our own – holding, loving, cuddling.
At that time, Allie was on a feeding tube and IV nutrition. She had not been held or bonded with. Through time, she has gone through more surgeries for intestinal blockages. She has gone through occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.
We quickly fell in love and knew that God had placed her in our lives. At two years of age her adoption became final. I became a dad again at the age of 56.
She is now in the first grade (a lot the doctor knew). She is still in speech therapy but no longer has a feeding tube. She has always been smaller than her peers, but is now starting to grow and is actually taller than some of them.
Intellectually, she is doing great. Speech helped her to learn words that she did not know. She taught herself to read at age three and now is reading chapter books, such as Nancy Drew Mysteries.
Allie surprises us every day with something new. She is AMAZING. God has blessed us in our old age with this wonderful little girl. And, we praise him.
Happy Birthday, my baby girl. I love you!
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure. He is also the author of soon to be released Cody and the Great Zoo Escape and Secret Lives (of middle school teachers).