When you sustain a spinal cord injury, one of the first thoughts that cross your mind is “Can I still have sex?” After meeting with a physiatrist and watching a very graphic video, I had my answer. Yes, you can still have sex after a spinal cord injury! The next question most of us have is “Can I still have kids?” Yes, you can! However, it can be quite expensive process trying to have a child depending on the effects of your level of injury. In many cases, individuals, specifically males, may have to go visit a fertility specialist and consider options such as IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
Such is the case for my wife and me. We tried two IUI’s that cost nearly $1,000 each time. Both times were unsuccessful. So, with a lot of prayer, we considered a third option - Adoption and Foster care. We attended a meeting with the Department of Social Services and received an overwhelming amount of paperwork and information. We learned the process of Adoption versus Foster care and were feeling overwhelmed with the whole process so we didn’t pursue that option. Therefore, my wife and I were still trying to decide if we wanted to try another IUI or go all the way and spend $12,000 and do an IVF.
A year went by and we just kept praying and trusting in God that he would show us the route to take. Before long, we kept seeing commercials on TV and hearing radio ads talking about Adoption and Foster care. I told my wife that I believe God is trying to tell us something! Well, a few months went by and one evening my wife got home from work and told me that we may have an opportunity to foster a 16-month-old girl. My wife filled me in with the details, and I told her to let’s just pray about it! We prayed about it for a few days and we both decided to give it a go. We had less than a week to get our home toddler proofed and to get all the essentials - such as car seats, clothes, and a toddler bed. Thankfully, our family helped us out by lending a hand to get our house in order so we would be able to get her. The next day, my wife and I went to the DSS office and signed the paperwork that was needed for us to foster. My wife was so excited she asked me to stop by Old Navy® so she could get our foster-daughter some outfits!
The following day, DSS brought our foster-daughter to us. Wow! The nerves I felt knowing the responsibility we were taking on, and wondering if I was going to be able to give this beautiful little girl the love and support she needs from my wheelchair. The first couple of weeks were challenging because she had to adjust to us, as well as, us to her. We had to figure out a good routine for us all. After three weeks, we had a great routine going. On the days my wife works, I get our foster-daughter up at 7:30 am and feed her breakfast (which usually consists of a bowl of oatmeal, yogurt, and apple sauce followed up with a cup of milk.) Then I get her dressed for daycare. (I figured out early on that it was easier for me to change her diaper and clothes on our sofa instead of her toddler bed because the toddler bed is low to the ground.) After she is dressed, I try to get her hair looking as lady-like as possible but I fail miserably at it! Finally, we are out the door and headed for my vehicle. I really thought putting her in the car seat of my truck was going to be challenging, but thankfully my sweet foster-daughter is great at climbing. I give her a boost and she does the rest. Once seated, I get her strapped in and we are off to daycare.
I usually pick her up at 4:30pm each day, we come home, and I give her an afternoon snack to hold her over till dinner time. We then watch her favorite movie, TROLLS, until my wife gets home from work and gets dinner ready. After dinner, my wife takes over and gives her a bath and we try to get her to settle down and ready for bed. Bedtime is around 8:00pm. My wife and I go read her a book and then say our bedtime prayers.
We have been foster parents for over five months now and we have a great routine. Most days are smooth sailing. The greatest joy my little foster-daughter gave me came about a month after having her. I was about to feed her breakfast and suddenly, she kept calling out ‘Daddy’. I never once spoke that to her, she just knew! Another favorite of ours is when I go pick her up from church nursery. She sees me and comes running, climbs up into my lap and hugs me, and I roll her to the car.
See, being a parent is about adapting, just like we had to adapt to our spinal cord injury, as well as adapt to being in a wheelchair. If something doesn’t work, we find an easier way to do it! We are constantly learning and applying what we learn to better our daily routine!
I don’t know how long my wife and I will get to keep her; only God knows and He has a plan. If it’s only for a few more months or forever, we will continue to give her the love and support she needs and deserves and love her as our own! If it is not in God’s will for us to have her forever, I have peace in knowing that she knows what its liked to be loved and will carry that with her forever!
Finally, being blessed to be foster parents has made me realize even more that I would love to have a child of our own with my wife. We plan to take the next step and try IVF. We have faith and trust God in knowing His timing is always right - just as it was when He brought our beautiful foster-daughter in our lives!
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0917/0549