You are no desolate wanderer, but a beloved child — watched over, cared for, supplied and defended by your Lord!” ~ Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
It’s been over a year since I updated this family blog. There is no way I could recap a whole year, but I’ll try to at least give a peek into what life is like at the moment.
The pace of life has stayed intense for this whole year. We feel as if we’ve barely had any chance to catch our breath, but we’re still hanging in there. Enduring. And God continues to guide, provide, care for, and sustain us. One of the biggest events in our life right now involves Colin.
Colin is now twenty-three, and if you have trouble keeping all those Rosenow kids straight, he was born in Bolivia at twenty-six weeks gestation and lost his vision due to Retinopathy of Prematurity. He was completely blind by the age of eight months, and we adopted him when he was two and a half.
I was terrified to adopt a child who was blind, but it was very clear that he was our son, and we learned so much and navigated those early years pretty well, actually. However, his late teen/young adult years have been much harder. We were bombarded by so many challenges with the other kids, Colin’s needs as a blooming adult were much harder to figure out, and resources were so much harder to find. For the last few years, I have prayed hundreds of prayers for guidance, feeling so much of the time like I was the blind one. Colin so much wants to be able to live independently and to have a full life, including a job and a family of his own someday. I felt like we were failing him in so many areas, and more than once I asked God what he was thinking to send Colin to a family that was so huge — seemingly too huge to give him all he needed.
But God did bring Colin to us. Not to someone else. He is our son. And God doesn’t make mistakes. So we kept praying and putting out fires right and left in all areas of life while we waited for answers.
Eventually, God led us to a school in Little Rock, AR. I felt immediately that I had finally found the place that could take Colin the rest of the way and allow him to realize his dreams for a life of independence. But it was so far away and so expensive. And we were (and still are) living day to day, trusting God to provide for this huge brood, even facing some weeks when weren’t able to buy groceries or pay all of our bills. This school seemed impossible, but also very right.
It’s such a long story and required so, so many phone calls, so much paperwork, and exhausting follow-through, but Colin was finally awarded a full scholarship for the first three months of school at World Services for the Blind. This first three months would focus initially on teaching him all skills for independent living — shopping, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, handling a bank account and public transportation, learning about all the forms of assisted technology available for the blind today.
But still . . . the decision to drop my “blind baby” in a strange place, hundreds of miles away from anything he has ever known, and leave him there was hard! I needed to know, as certainly as possible, that this was the right place for him. We needed to take a trip to Little Rock, the three of us, to confirm that this place truly was the right place for Colin. But there was no way we could afford a trip to Little Rock, so we kept praying. Then we were hugely blessed when a gift was sent to us to cover this specific need. Scott, Colin, and I flew to Little Rock yesterday (Sunday, February 27).
Today we spent the day touring the school, meeting the staff, learning details about what those three months of intense and immersive training would require of Colin, and all that it would give to him if we decided to send him here for school.
We also learned that there is a very good chance for further financial aid to cover continuing school after these first three months of learning independent learning skills. The next phase would involve helping him make choices about a career and then training for that career, so being able to continue there would be really great for him. We have seen so many times how we can trust God to lead us along paths we can’t see, and we are content to move forward and take this as it all unfolds for now.
We all three left there feeling very excited about Colin’s future, and we also made the decision that he will definitely be coming back here for school as soon as we can complete the rest of the required paperwork, medical exams, and arrange for travel back to Little Rock. Much of the staff at the school is blind, and it was more encouraging than I can even describe to see just how fully they function in a world that is very sight-dependent. Just amazing.
After those meetings at the school we were blessed to spend a little bit of time with friends who used to live in Cincinnati, but moved here to Little Rock many years ago. They are also adoptive parents (some of their children are even TSC kids), and we were so encouraged by our time together.
Lastly, we had an appointment at AT&T so Colin could buy himself his first phone. This will be such a valuable tool in so many ways as he begins this journey. There are so many helpful apps and resources for the blind available in the tech world today. He was adamant that he wanted this phone to be red.
We fly back home tomorrow and jump right back into life, which kept moving at rocket speed even without us. Caelyn had a huge surgery in January, and is struggling so much with her second post-op infection from that surgery. We are worried that she doesn’t seem to be responding to antibiotics as we had hoped she would, so we will be following up with her surgeon as soon as we get home.
Also, Robyn and Madlin were both recently diagnosed with life-changing conditions. Robyn is learning how live with a very, very rare eye condition called Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency, and we were so concerned when she began literally losing her vision right before Christmas. We were so happy to learn a week ago that the serious inflammation in her eyes is responding to the multiple meds she is using, and her vision has now returned enough for now that she has been able to start driving again and return to work. We are still learning what all of this means for her future, but we are very thankful that she has improved so much for now, even if it’s only temporary.
Madlin’s new diagnosis is Grave’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. She has been pretty sick and feeling really lousy for months, so we were glad to finally get an explanation for this, but as with Robyn’s new condition, there is a lot to learn about this disease as we continue trying to get her stabilized. There can sometimes be an eye component to this disease called Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), and a few days before we left for this trip, we were very concerned to see that she was beginning to show signs of this. We moved forward with this trip as we waited to hear back from her specialist. His office called this morning and was able to get an emergency appointment for her with an ophthalmologist today, and our oldest daughter, Kristie, was so kind to leave her family for the afternoon and take Madlin to this appointment for us. He did a thorough exam and assured Madlin that, so far, her eyes haven’t been damaged by this, gave her some medications and treatments to bring her some relief, and made it clear we have to find yet another specialist now to follow this new development. So that is also waiting for us at home.
We really are so tired, but there are good things happening, too. Kathryn’s seizures have improved so much, compared to last year, and she is now only five months away from getting her seizure/service dog. Stephen has started school at a local police academy and seems to be doing well there. Meghan is now finally pursuing her dream of attending nursing school, and loving that. Both were awarded full financial aid for their school.
So we have much to be thankful for, even as we continue to long for, and ask God for, calm and rest. And we know we can trust him to continue carrying us through the hard stuff, and we are excited about what’s around the next curve for Colin.