Life with Julia
A series of
articles published in the NATHHAN/CHASK News by Jim and Jerri Unruh. They tell
us what life is like with their youngest of nine who has Ohtahara Syndrome, an
infantile epileptic seizure disorder.
Welcome Home Julia!
Looking back, the
idea of adoption surfaced many times in our marriage. In fact, even before we
were married, Jerri and I talked about it seriously, in reference to my own
experience of being an adopted child.
Julia smiled today!
Actually, her first smile came while we sat in church on March 2, 2008. Jim grabbed my arm and then we both just stared at her. We wanted to jump up and down to tell the whole congregation, but instead we quietly relished this very special moment. You may wonder why such a thrill—some of you know. Sweet Julia is still like a newborn. Not just any newborn though, a floppy newborn that weighs 18 pounds and is 28 inches long. An eight month old newborn with no development milestones yet achieved. Except…a smile!
What is life with Julia like daily? Hmmm…..sleep, eat, meds, seizures, diaper, open eyes, smile, cuddle, sleep, bath, physical therapy, eat, meds, sleep, diaper, eat, open eyes, smile, seizures, yawn, get kissed by sister or brother, sit up in wheelchair, sleep, diaper, cuddle, eat, sleep, smile, diaper, meds, hug my pink teddy and sleep some more!
Last Fall when Julia was in the hospital for a new feeding tube she was officially diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome or Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathy. (A seizure disorder) It is not known for having a very positive outcome; with many dying in infancy. After the initial tears we again thanked the Lord for His amazing blessing in allowing us and trusting us to care for His precious jewel. Only He can number our days. With Julia I am so aware of God giving her to us and I trust Him for her life. Since our life with Julia began I have become keenly aware that I did not trust Him the same for my natural born children. I had not relinquished control of them as I had of Julia! When we were first made aware of Julia I felt that we needed her as much as she needed us. It was not Julia that needed us, God could have placed her with any family He chose. In His wisdom and sovereignty He lovingly handpicked us. With each new day the Lord is faithful to show us our need to sacrifice ourselves and to reach out to Julia with the grace and love we have received from Him. Thank you Lord and thank you Julia.
Our adoption was final in January. Julia Hope Unruh is now officially ours in the eyes of the world, but she was ours in our hearts long before then.
Those of you who have expressed a willingness to adopt a CHASK baby I urge you to be home study ready. So many of these babies need homes immediately from the hospital and without one, they may end up in state care. Julia was blessed to be with a private Christian agency who could find a private foster home; where, I add, she was adored; while we expedited all our paperwork---we were not ready! They were kind and patient; they truly loved Jewels Emily, as they called her then. There was a network of people, churches and organizations praying for her. We will always be thankful.
Happy 1st Birthday Julia!
By Jerri Unruh
Julia (found through CHASK and adopted shortly after birth) has added so much to our lives. She is officially diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome or Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathy. (A seizure disorder).
After living and caring for Julia for a year, everyone seems to be used to her now… sometimes to the point of complacency. A common occurance around here is to be responding to Julia’s choking emergency with the suction machine, while at the same time being asked, “Mom, where is my math?” or “Hey Mom, can I have a cookie?” To which one of two things happen, #1 I respond with, “You left it on the washing machine.” or “No, you can’t have a cookie, wait for dinner.” OR #2, I hysterically say, “Please, can’t you see this is life or death?!”
When we first considered adopting Julia, I was convinced that we needed her as
much (or more) than she needed us. I reasoned that having Julia would help
everyone, including me, with selfishness. We could serve the Lord while serving
Juila! Such godly intentions! I was focusing on our potential character
development… and what we got instead was a house full of characters!
Through Julia’s life we are indeed developing character aimed at Godliness...but, that is what we all should do for each other, is it not? “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” “Iron sharpens iron.” God intends for us to grow and change. He uses many opportunities to do just that, but how do we respond? I find that growth is hard.
Was I prepared for all that I personally would find myself dealing with when I was thinking of character development? I am just scratching the surface. Ouch! Would I adopt Julia again, knowing all that we would go through? Absolutely!
Here are some sweet examples of our little guys gaining some character growth right before my eyes!
“...Momma, Juya having seezers; mom, come quick she coughed, how can I help? I'll turn on the suction and get some water to clean it when your done; she's so beautiful, can I kiss her?”
mix it (formula); she's smiling at me; I can do her meds.”
“Me sleep with Juya; do you need a vent, here is her bear, and... hey, mom what about my cookie now?
....He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 1:6
(Editor’s note: Jim and Jerri Unruh are NATHHAN/CHASK Board Members and have been involved for many years. It is such a joy to see them enjoying one of the Lord’s special little treasures!)
Here is a picture of the Unruh characters!
Back= Jessica and Peter Unruh, Luke, Zachary; Ian, Joy and Thane Hale (not pictured= Baby Jade Hale)
Front= Danny, Jerri and Julia, Jim and Lily and Sean