Update August 5, 2016: We are thrilled to report Jasper has a forever family! For all who advocated for Jasper, thank you! You are making a difference!
Every year, we save the ugliest day at the beach for our annual trek to ol’ Barney (Barnegat Lighthouse). Our kids look forward to climbing the 217, winding metal steps to the top, where they can overlook where the bay and the great Atlantic Ocean meet. The experience never really loses its luster.
This year would be no different, except that our days have been altogether different. Our family of 5 is a family of 6 for a season. “Jasper” is with us. On that day slotted for ol’ Barney, we decided that the climb to the top would not be an activity he could or should participate in. He came to us with weak muscle tone in his legs and has been falling down and tripping over his feet quite a bit. We thought that it was just too much for his little legs, too dangerous if he should trip. We also figured he wouldn’t even want to try because he has not liked climbing things at home with the other kids. So, we walked towards the lighthouse with the plan that I would stay with him and walk around the beach while the other kids climbed.
When we got to the entrance, he looked up and pointed to the top. His face was nervous but he started following the other kids into the stairwell. My husband Christian looked at me and said, “Should we let him climb?” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I guess so! Seems he has already made that decision for us. If he doesn’t like it, I will climb back down with him.” He grabbed my hand. Together, we started to climb the steps, one step at a time. About only 20 steps in, he stopped. He looked at me, obviously already tired. I used my phone to translate “keep going.” He continued, all the time looking up at the spiral maze ahead of him. Half way there, he stopped again. He checked in with me for something translated as he has learned to do, and I said, “almost there!” He was getting slower and dragging a bit, but he did not stop again until we finally reached the top. I sent him out beforeme to the caged enclosure at the very top. He went out willingly and gasped as the strong, high winds hit him. He smiled so big and laughed as he ran around the platform with the other kids.
He did it.
We had assumed away this experience for him before we had even arrived at the beach! He showed us! Sometimes, we adults get caught up in our protective higher knowledge. We think we know what is best and what our children are capable of. “Jasper” showed us that his physical setbacks are not character setbacks. His determination and willingness to try things that are different, even scary perhaps, triumph any limitations his body may have. He held my hand. He looked to me for encouragement. He was tired. But, don’t we all find ourselves there too? When we take on something difficult, we need a hand to hold, we need encouragement from others, we often falter from absolute exhaustion…but, man, when we arrive, the view from the top is just beautiful.
Jasper is currently being hosted in Pennsylvania through Madison Adoption Associates. There is a $3,000 grant available for the family who adopts Jasper. Please email Sarah for more information about this amazing boy!
Madison Adoption Associates is a Hague accredited, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to bring hope, love, and a permanent family to children in need. By serving children and families through domestic and international adoption, our work is guided by the following core principles:
Our placement goals are to meet the child's needs and best interests, along with a strong commitment to work with the wishes and rights of the prospective adoptive families.