NATHHAN National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network

Christian Families Homeschooling Special Needs Children

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Swing Low...

By Dick and JoAnn Lang

    Swing low….sweet chariot…… was our adopted son, Jordon’s favorite song. He especially loved the part where we said his name ….  I looked over Jordan and what did I see, comin’ for ‘ta carry me home, a band of Angels comin’ after me, comin’ for ta’ carry me home.
    It was a bitter cold day in East Chicago, Indiana. On January 16th, 1985 Jordon made his entrance into the world, a day that should have been filled with joy and praise, but for Jordon’s birth family all they felt was helplessness and sorrow. Soon after Jordon was born he experienced breathing difficulty, doctors soon found he’d been born with a collapsed lung and air around his heart. If that news wasn’t enough to send a family whirling Jordon also had a VSD (hole in his heart). Doctors also suspected he may also have Down syndrome.
Jordon’s birth mother had an addition to crack cocaine; years later we learned that she blamed herself for Jordon’s diagnosis. The doctor told her Jordon wouldn’t live to be five years old and offered her and her family the option of adoption. Soon thereafter, we received a phone call from a woman in White Plains, NY who helped babies and children born with Down syndrome find families to adopt them. All we were told was that there was a black baby boy born with Down syndrome who needed a family, would we take him? I explained I would need to talk with my husband, but that we would call her back. With careful thought and much prayer we felt led to say, yes. “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” John 14:18. I called the lady in NY back and arrangements were made to pick the baby up. We met at the airport and our baby, whom we named Jordon, was placed in my arms. He was sleeping soundly. I told my husband that something was wrong with this baby. He felt stiff like he had cerebral palsy, unlike the lower muscle tone that children with Down syndrome typically are born with. But we were so taken by emotions the thought left as quickly as it came.
The days following Jordon’s homecoming were challenging yet wonderful. Jordon’s tiny body would tremor and his cry was intense. Little did we know he was experiencing withdrawals from crack cocaine. We tried everything we knew of to comfort him, from Indian style wraps to formula change, with no relief. At age two months we took Jordon to the Therapy Center for evaluation and recommendations. It would be years before we would open our son’s adoption to find answers to our many questions.
Growing up, Jordon was happy all the time and stubborn most of the time. He flourished with our family and in spite of the obstacles he faced, he came to know Jesus. Jordon was always included in everything we did as a family; he attended Sunday school, parties and gatherings. Jordon had a smile that could warm the coldest heart, and his personality sparkled. Anyone who knew Jordon couldn’t help but love him and he thrived on attention. Jordon could not handle much stimulation though; it was as if sounds and motion hurt him in some way. Jordon also experienced challenges unrelated to his Down syndrome. Jordon’s behaviors became increasingly dangerous and disruptive. He was asked to leave the Parks & Rec. program for children with disabilities; he was sent home from a handicapped camp for children with physical limitations. Jordon had limited speech, he talked like a parrot reciting speech he’d heard from a cartoon or at school, and he answered “yes” to everything. He could sing songs word for word and carry a tune. Many times Jordon helped us to see God’s grace; we learned that in times of deep sorrow, like the day the pediatric cardiologist told my husband and I that Jordon was terminal, no cure, no operation that would fix his broken little heart or repair his lungs, God’s grace truly is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:19 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”
By age 11, Jordon had a history of violent behaviors. The elementary school sued us as a way to remove Jordon from school. They had been using an “adverse therapy” protocol without our knowledge which included isolation, which only compounded his behaviors. Eventually, Jordon’s behaviors endangered those around him. Jordon needed in-patient care and treatment at a children’s behavioral health facility. The Doctors and treatment team recommended Residential Rx. for Jordon’s well-being and that of those around him.
Sadly, the doctor’s and treatment teams’ recommendations went without being addressed by those in positions to be of assistance. Jordon’s body continued to grow, however, his mind stayed that of a two-three year old. Jordon loved the musical Christmas bells we hung over the doorway each Christmas. His favorite cartoon was Pete’s Dragon and he could sing every song. Jordon also had a mobility scooter due to his decreased oxygen levels. He loved to ride that scooter. One winter we let him pull his two younger brothers around the cow pasture in the snow as he drove the scooter. Jordon never liked the cold weather, much less snow, so this was the only way to get him to come outside (he was the driver).
By the time Jordon was twelve years old, his dad needed neuro surgery on his spine. As much as it hurt to let Jordon go we knew with my husband’s upcoming operation and Jordon’s behaviors, staying at home wasn’t an option. We signed Jordon into state care hoping he would receive the mental health care he so desperately needed and doctors had long recommended. We tried relentlessly to have the child welfare workers comply with doctors’ recommendations as to Jordon’s care. Unfortunately, the child welfare workers choose to place Jordon in a foster care home and offered nine days respite care at a facility in another town. Jordon was very repetitive: anything out of routine could easily create a problem for Jordon and those around him. Jordon had significant medical and mental disabilities, he didn’t have the capacity to understand or control his behaviors; he was extremely repetitive in all he did. After my husbands operation, recuperation and auto accident Jordon returned home. On May 1, 2000 while at respite care, Jordon became out of control and police were summoned. Jordon was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where his dad and I picked him up and brought him home (on sedating medication). On May 8, 2000 after hitting his dad in the face and pounding on his sister’s back as she tried to pick up his O2 equipment off the floor, the police came and took Jordon in handcuffs. The police officers determined that Jordon was a danger to himself and his family. Next we found ourselves in a Court Dependency. Again, we asked the Lord to direct us, strengthen us, and give us wisdom to help our special son. The court found that Jordon had severe behavioral and emotional issues that were beyond the parents’ ability to handle. We realized we could no longer care for Jordon and keep everyone safe, we’d been told that the only way to get help for Jordon was to sign him into care. On that day, we prayerfully let go. Sadly, Jordon remained in foster care and endangered other children. Our prayer was that Jordon would receive the mental health care he required and be able to come home.
While in care, Jordon had a sprained ankle and sustained a broken jaw, things we didn’t learn until after his death. I believe that God looked down on Jordon and said, This is enough, Jordon, it’s time to come home. On June 3, 2006 Jordon looked over the “river Jordan, and saw a band of angels comin after me, comin for ta carry me home.” My husband and I had prayed that when his time came that the Lord would take him home gently and peacefully. Jordon went to bed that Friday night and the angels came, our sweet son went home to be with the Lord. We are at peace knowing that Jordon is with Jesus and we have the blessed hope of seeing him again in heaven. Even in death God answered our prayers.
Note from Jo Ann: When I felt lead to write this article I first thought how negative, why would anyone be interested in our family’s joys and struggles? Would it prevent families from adopting children like Jordon? Or would it let families who are struggling know that not every story has a happy ending... but that’s not the end? I also would like those reading our story to know that children like Jordon so very much need a voice; their families need support and encouragement. God desires us to reach out to children like Jordon, their families and their birth families. After Jordon went home to be with the Lord, I knew I needed to contact his birth family. Sadly, his birth mother was in a drug rehab, however, one of Jordon’s biological sisters was open to keeping in touch. As I ministered to her she told me she was looking for Jesus! Our God is an awesome God! Even in death he can and does use his children to minister to the lost. I quickly ordered Rick Warren’s book “Purpose Driven Life” and mailed it to her. We pray for her and her family’s salvation and believe that God will, through Jordon’s life, touch his birth family and bring them to him. I can only praise God for all the wonderful things he has done for me and my family. I feel blessed and privileged to have been entrusted with Jordon’s little life. He is greatly missed, but he no longer has a hole in his heart and his lungs are filled with oxygen because of the greatest physician of all-Jesus!

Jo Ann Lang
12401 N.E. 44th Street
Vancouver, WA 98682
(360) 256-3535