By Linda Dillon
Alissa was 22 years old and lived with her best girlfriend in a small town in Alabama. The girls were a little wild and they liked to go to parties with their friends. One dark night in the fall of 1998, the partying lead to disaster. Alissa was raped.
Alissa was very traumatized by this event, but she tried to forget about it by immersing herself in an endless round of parties and crack cocaine. After several weeks the truth suddenly dawned on her: She was pregnant.
Now Alissa was faced with a choice; a terrible, heart-wrenching choice. She thought perhaps it would be better if she went to the abortion clinic, and got rid of a baby that was fathered by a rapist. As she struggled with this decision, she felt the first little movements of the baby in her womb. And then she knew: It was a living baby. It was HER baby. This brave young woman decided to give her baby the wonderful gift of life.
Once this decision was made she stopped taking drugs and started eating healthy foods. She looked in the yellow pages and called an adoption agency. Her parents and her best friend also supported her in the decision to place her child for adoption.
One hot day in July of 1999, Alissa went into labor. She went to the hospital to have her baby. While she gave birth the nurse asked her if she wanted the baby placed on her abdomen as they usually did for mother and child bonding. Alissa suddenly saw the rapist’s face in her mind, and she said NO, she did not wish to see the baby. But the nurse laid the baby on her abdomen anyway, and said, “It’s a girl.” Alissa looked down at the wet, wiggly, little baby and was amazed. She thought, “Why, it’s a baby! It’s just an innocent little baby!” The memory of her rapist’s face was gone, and only the face of her precious baby girl filled her heart.
The adoptive parents arrived at the hospital to visit the baby, and Alissa signed her parental relinquishment papers. However, while the baby was still in the hospital the doctor expressed some concern that there was something wrong and he wanted to run some tests. When the baby was 3 days old the doctors performed an ultrasound of the baby’s brain, and then an MRI scan. They found that she had a large hole in the right side of her brain, and a small hole in the left side. The condition is called schizencephaly. The neurologist told the adoptive parents that the baby might be retarded, have seizures, might never walk, and might not be able to speak. The adoptive parents felt that they could not handle the baby’s special needs, and they backed out. Under Alabama law a birth mother has 5 days to revoke her relinquishment of parental rights. Alissa did not want her baby to go into the foster care system. So she revoked her relinquishment papers, and Alissa and her parents, dazed and confused, took the baby home.
When the baby was 5 days old someone called CHASK which stands for Christian Homes And Special Kids. CHASK matches up families who want to adopt with special needs babies and children who need a home. They offer this service free of charge since they operate on a donation basis only.
We had our homestudy ready for an adoption, and we had been in prayer asking God to match us up with the right child. So when the call came from CHASK, we felt that maybe God was talking. My husband and I prayed. We talked to the neurologist on the phone, and we prayed again. We both felt the quiet voice of God saying to us, “Go get the baby. Don’t be afraid. Everything will be fine.”
Our family photos and information were sent to Alissa. She liked us and agreed to the adoption. I flew to Alabama and had a wonderful and emotional meeting with Alissa. She told me some of her story. I told her how glad we were that she had not gone to an abortionist when she was pregnant. I told her that we were going to name the baby Rachel, and that we would take very good care of her. We agreed to send Alissa photos of Rachel regularly and reports of her progress. With tears in her eyes she placed her baby into my arms.
Our neurologist examined Rachel and told us that the large hole in the right side of her brain had caused her to have mild cerebral palsy on the left side of her body. She began physical and speech therapy. She was very delayed. At 2 years old Rachel could not get up off her back. She would just lay there and cry until someone came to get her. She did not talk, and did not put any toys or food into her mouth. We started teaching her sign language and I began to wonder if she would need a wheelchair.
Then the miracle happened. Rachel began to make noticeable progress. I believe that God was helping different parts of her brain take over the tasks of the parts that were missing. We got a brace for her left foot and ankle, and the child that was not supposed to be able to walk, learned to walk! The child that was not supposed to talk, began to speak! The child that was supposed to be retarded began singing the ABC song, counting to 10, and naming all the colors! The child who was supposed to have seizures, never had one! Rachel began to clap and sing along with children’s Bible songs, and play preschool computer games. Our family went camping when Rachel was four years old, and the biggest problem we had was that Rachel kept running off to see things and we had to chase after her!
At five years old Rachel is Mommy’s little helper. She loves to stand on a stool and help me cook. She stirs while I put in the ingredients. She likes to help set the table and unload the dishwasher. She recognizes all the capital and small letters, and is ready to start reading! She still wears diapers and has some speech difficulties, but she is catching up with other children and is making incredible progress. Rachel has a really sweet spirit, and she loves to hug and cuddle. We are so blessed to have her in our family.