Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Monday, January 23, 2012

How Could You Not

I have been filling my blog lately with articles that I write for the Cannon Courier on disability advocacy and education, and between writing that bi-weekly article, and law school, and a full time job, and being an active member of my church, AND raising a child who has special needs, I don' t have a whole lot of time to just sit and write from my heart. But recently, a topic struck me that I just had to post about.

A sweet, sweet friend told me this week through Facebook that she considered me the "epitome" of a good mother. I gasped at such an astounding comment. I do consider myself a very good mother, maybe a little over protective at times, maybe a little to obsessive about Christian's care at times. But if I have one flaw as a mom, it's that I care too much. But, when I read this comment, it definitely stayed with me for a few minutes. As I mulled it over in my head and tried to wrap my thoughts around it, I asked myself if I was really worthy of such a compliment. I contemplated on times when I felt less than a good mother, when I would lose my cool too easily because I was over exhausted and over -stressed. I remembered the time that Christian cried for an hour because he was hungry, and although I tried everything to calm him (except feed him) I remember the feeling when I realized that he was supposed to have eaten an hour ago and I had simply forgotten. There have been times when I wish I had reacted differently or done something differently, but in my heart, I know that I aspire to be the best mother that I can.

But as I was thinking about all this, a thought came to my mind of something a friend told me once. She is also the mother of a child with many special needs. We were talking about when people would tell us, "I don't see how you do it, raising a child with so many special needs." Tabetha's answer was simple, "How could I not do it?"

I guess it stuck with me because, like Tabetha, I had never thought about "not doing it." It was just what I did. It is hard, painful, and exhausting at times. If I could do something to make my son whole, I would do it in a heartbeat. If there was another way, I would probably choose it. But the fact of the matter is, it is not my choice.

When I tell people "It's not like I have a choice," they will answer "Yes, you do." I know they're referring to the choice I had to abort, or to put Christian up for adoption instead of raise him. But in all honesty, it was not my choice anymore than it was my choice to have a child born with a disability. God choose me, not to sound arrogant or haughty at all, I say it as humbly as I can. I remember being 15 and 16 years old, on my hands and knees at the alter of my church, and I would pray so earnestly that God use me in whatever way He chose. I told Him that I wanted His will for my life, not my own, and that my life was His to use, not mine. And I believe He did just that, because I asked Him too. So God chose me to be Christian's mother. Not because He knew that I could handle it or that I am so special, but because He knew that I would have the support I needed from family and friends, and because He knew that I would seek His help in raising Christian and getting through the hard times instead of trying to do it on my own. Again, I am not trying to lift myself up AT ALL. I am nothing without God. I am insignificant, unimportant, and worthless except for what God has placed inside of me, which is His spirit. All in all, I simply COULD NOT do this without His help and guidance. What do I know about raising a child with a disability? Not a thing. What do I know about God's plans? Nothing. But I stand firm on the scripture that we walk by faith and not by sight. I can't wait until the day that I can hear my son say those words and watch him live by those words. I know very little, but I know everything I need to know, because God guides my way and lights my path right where I need to take a step. Although there are times when I want to see the whole road, I am learning to have a sure footing in that one lit place.

Along the lines of being a "good mother," when Christian was a month or two old, a girl sent me a message through Facebook one day to inform me that I was a horrible mother because I did not abort Christian, but carried him to term and delivered him to live. She went on to explain how a friend of hers had a child diagnosed with the exact same thing as Christian and she loved her child so much that she aborted him so that he would not have to live such a horrid life. Without trying to diminish or belittle the pain that that woman was most certainly going through, I do have to say that she made an incredibly obvious wrong choice. I don't want to focus this part of my story on the woman who chose to abort her baby, because although she was wrong, I don't think it was a decision she made lightly or without thought. However, I would like to focus on the girl who cowardly approached me though Facebook to poke her nose in business that she was not involved in. This girl, sadly, had a small child, but apparently, did not grasp the concept of true love, which I see and feel in my son every day. She failed to see the gift beyond the packaging, the life beyond the loss, the joy beyond the tribulation, the peace beyond the chaos. Her vision was shallow. Her heart was weak. Her concept of love was defective. And because of that, she cannot understand what it means to not have choice in raising my son. The word "abortion" never crossed my mind when I was pregnant, but the word "love" sure did. Abortion was so far from a choice to me that it had literally never even hit me that I had the option until this girl brought it to my attention.

But to be honest, I didn't have a choice. Christian was alive the second God placed a soul into that tiny little embryo. He was my son before he was ever conceived. He was God's child LONG before the world began. So no, it's not my choice. It never was. So can I throw up my hands and just call it quits with Christian because the challenges are just too hard and I am too tired? I suppose I could, but will I? Absolutely not, and it's not because I am the "epitome" of a good mother. The answer has nothing to do with me at all. It is because God showed me to look beyond what I can see, to alter my idea of love to fit His idea of love, and to accept what He chose for my life because He is God and I am not. So, in what I do for Christian, how could I not?


Friday, January 13, 2012

Special Kids Race

What is Special Kids? Check out these cute pictures and video to see exactly what goes on at Special Kids, Inc.

Feeding therapy where Christian learns to ear

Occupational therapy where Christian learns to master his fine motor skills

crawling through the tunnel!

Little brothers need entertainment too! :)








     Special Kids, Inc. is a Christain, non-profit organization in Murfreesboro, Tennessee that provides therapeutic rehabilitation and professional nursing services to children with special needs. Special Kids opened in 1998 with just one child, and today over 2,000 children have been served. They offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, feeding therapy, nursing services, recreational therapy, art therapy, and a summer day camp. They are a one of a kind facility, being the only organization  in the state that offers rehabilitation and nursing services under one roof.
    
     Special Kids started with a vision from an outpatient nurse, Carrie Goodwin, who envisioned a place where children with special needs would not be turned away because of their family's inability to pay. She instead saw a place where these children would be "embraced with Christian love and healing arms."
    
     Special Kids is a group on a mission. Their mission statement reads: "Special Kids exists to serve Jesus Christ by caring for His children, and we strive to live this out through our service, example, and trust. For us, it's ALL about Jesus Christ and the children we serve."

     What exactly are all these therapies and services that Special Kids offers? Children with special needs sometimes struggle to do things that might come natural to a child without special needs. For example, Christain struggles with mobility because of his vision impairment. Where other babies eventually get up and crawl to reach their favorite toy without much help, Christian did not. He had to be taught, because he doesn't "see" a toy to go get. Physical therapy did just this. It teaches gross motor skills, coordination, and core strengthening to name a few. Occupational therapy addresses fine motor skills and teaches independent living skills such as handwriting and self care. Speech language pathology teaches children comprehension and expression of language. Feeding therapy teaches children how to eat. It addresses a range of issues that can prevent a child from being able to eat, such as cleft lip and palate, like Christian, to sensory procession disorders.

     The nursing services that Special Kids provides are amazing. We all know how hard it can be to find a baby sitter or day care for our children. Adding the weighty responsibility of special needs to that mix makes it even harder. I know personally how stressful this can be. Special Kids offers a day care that is staffed with professional nurses for these children. This allows parents to be able to maintain their jobs and still give the child the care he or she needs. And if that isn't great enough, all children are under the care of a pediatrician while they are there.

     These services are absolutely invaluable to a family with a child with special needs. Special Kids is located on Arnette Drive in Murfreesboro. If you ever have a chance to stop by and visit, I encourage you to do so. Their website is also a great place to start to learn more, check it out at www.specialkidstn.com.

     If you are looking for a way to reach out and impact the disabled community, a great opportunity has presented itself locally. I am thrilled to be a part of the Special Kids Race that will takes place each March. Special Kids recently upgraded its facility to a larger place where more children can receive services! This fundraiser will help ensure that Special Kids can stay true to its mission of never turning a child away for the inability to pay! The race will be held in Murfreesboro and will consist of a 1 mile fun run, 5k, and 15k. You can find out more and also register for the race at www.specialkidsrace.org. Team Christian will be out in full force on race day. You are welcome to join our team and help raise money for such a worthy cause!!!!

     If you would like more information or if you have ideas, comments, or questions, please feel free to e-mail me at laceybuchanan@gmail.com.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just The Way You Are - Disability Days on the Hill

         The state legislature often hosts "Days on the Hill" for a wide array of groups or topics. The name "Day on the Hill" comes from the fact that the capitol building is perched atop a high hill right in the middle of downtown Nashville, and the day gives people a chance to gather for at wide variety of topics. Anyone can come to the state capitol and speak with legislators at any time that the legislature is in session, but attending during a "Day on the Hill" lets legislators know you are passionate about an issue. 

     Days on the Hill are a very important part of the legislative process because they are one major way that legislators get informed about topics and how their constituents stand on certain issues. It is also a way to make a presence. When dozens or even hundreds of people gather for a common cause, those who create our laws have no choice but to pay attention. It is also a great opportunity to form a relationship with those who represent you in the law making body of our state government. Still need a few more reasons to attend? It provides a chance to meet with others involved in the disability community and to learn the latest on policies and legislation that affect the disabled community.

     This year the Tennessee Disability Coalition is  hosting three days known as "Disability Day on the Hill." This is your chance to meet with your senators and representatives and let them know what's important to you and why, when it comes to disability advocacy. The three Disability Days on the Hill this year are on February 29th, March 7th, and March 14th. On February 29th, Jim Henry, the Commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will speak. On March 7th, the speaker will be Tre Hargett, the Secretary of State. On March 14th, the subject will be the Family Support Program.

     I encourage everyone to attend at least one of these Days on the Hill. These events aren't just for people who have disabilities. If you know or love someone with a disability, work with people with disabilities, or are just passionate about disability advocacy, then you should mark your calender and plan on attending! Make your voice known and let your legislators know what's important to you. Sarah Sampson, the Communications Coordinator for the Tennessee Disability Coalition, calls Disability Days on the Hill the ". . .treasure of the coalition." Go ahead and call your senator and your representative now and schedule an appointment to meet with them for ten or fifteen minutes to discuss disability issues with them. For your convenience, the Courier lists your legislators' names and contact information in the paper every week!

    Once you get an appointment made, began doing your research and finding out exactly what you want to say to your legislator. You don't have to write a formal speech, or make a PowerPoint presentation, but you do need to be prepared to advocate for disability issues. Pick out one or two things that are most important to you and focus on those. Find out everything you can about those issues and prepare a few statements that you want to make to your legislators. You should state what issue you are discussing, which way you want your legislator to vote, and why you want them to vote that way. Let them know how voting in the opposite will adversely affect the disability community.

     Ms. Sampson informed me of the hot topic this year among the disability community.  Since much of the disabled community is supported by state and federal funding, she explained, the budget is always one of the most significant issues. This year the Family Support Program is especially high on the agenda because it is not included in Governor Haslem's 2012-2012 budget.

     There is a ton of information on www.tndisability.org about Disability Days on the Hill including a link to an email to ask any questions you may have. You can find the dates and information about the happenings on each day of the event and also links to contacting your legislators, tracking their actions and votes in committees and sessions, and keeping up with the latest on disability issues in the legislature. This website is loaded full so please go and check it out!

     Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have comments, questions, or ideas, please e-mail me at laceybuchanan@gmail.com.