Thursday, February 2, 2017

Day 2 - Jordan "Jet" Tanis

 I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “patience in the wait.” Our home study was done, our paperwork submitted, we were LID…and so all we had to do was wait for the phone call. In January 2016, while asking for prayer in our small group, someone summarized my frustrations and feelings of helplessness for not being able to do anything but wait and wonder into “so you’re saying you need to pray for patience in the wait”. I paused, and yes, that did summarize our lengthy prayer request into just four words.

But yet it was so much more than that.

Patience in the wait is a great thing to pray for; I’m not knocking it. I tell my now two year old son, as if he understands, “patience is a virtue” all the time (although if I were to be honest, it is not one of mine). My husband, Derek, has taught him to say “I will wait” instead of crying for whatever it is he wants at any particular moment. We could all practice a little more patience in our lives. But I will tell you a secret…I desperately hate the phrase “patience in the wait.”

Because what I was asking for then was more complicated than that. Patience, sure. Calmness, clarity, discernment…and a host of other things we had mentally exhausted our supply of. And we hadn’t even been matched yet!

Less than two months later though, we were matched with our son, diagnosed with complex CHD and repaired in China at three months old. He was, at the time, just over 13 months old and a rolly little bundle of cuteness. And as many of you know…once you accept your match, you hit the ground running.

Yet we still had people reminding us to be patient. “We would get to China when we got there.”  “Showing patience is a sign of the Spirit—it’s one of the fruits, after all.” Our son wasn’t a medical expedite, since he was repaired, and really all we did for the next two months was submit one form only to receive and fill out another. And yet I still felt that people, while well-meaning and intentioned, didn’t understand that patience wasn’t something that we were struggling with. Or at least, it wasn’t in our top five list of personal concerns. Relief of anxiety and fear, desire for calm and peace of mind…those were still our top concerns and requests.

We left for China on May 26, 2016, had our Gotcha Day on May 30, our consulate appointment on June 6, and returned home to the States on June 8. You can read about all of our experiences here should you so desire—the before, during, and since we’ve been home. Adoption stories are fun to read, and it’s fun to get to know families through them, typically since when the events are unfolding you are at your most vulnerable. Yet, our adoption story, our bringing home of our son Jordan, is not what I’m choosing to write about.

Jordan Ezekiel Tanis, or Jet for short, became our son on May 30, 2016. We chose not to officially keep any part of his Chinese name, and instead chose his name for the meaning behind it. Jordan, because my husband’s birth mother named him that before she chose his adoptive family for him. And Ezekiel, because it means “God will strengthen.” And just an FYI, the fact that his initials spell out an actual cool word and nickname was unintentional. If you know us well, we are clearly not cool enough for that.

We also aren’t cool enough to have considered the name Ezekiel as a middle name either, but Jet was a Morning Star baby, where he was given the name Zeke for his brave and mighty warrior heart. In fact, there was an Instagram photo posted by Morning Star on his discharge from the hospital following his very complex surgery, and it couldn’t have summarized the name choice better: “Baby Zeke. ‘God will strengthen.’ He surely has.” After finding that post, it was an immediate yes. Yes, this is his name. Jordan Ezekiel Tanis. Yes, this is our son.

And the irony is, we thought it was fitting that we’d keep the Ezekiel as a reminder to him how much God had already strengthened his little heart (and body and will). In reality? No. It’s a reminder to us, his parents.

 Jordan isn’t really sick. He did have a stent put in during his heart cath in November, and so that will be monitored and maintained every few years as he grows to keep the stent appropriately sized to his heart’s needs. His sats are consistently 99-100 since then. He’s growing like a weed, and I can’t seem to stay on top of what size clothes he actually fits into from week to week (although he could stand to gain a pound or two so the widths of things would keep up with his lengths). When we brought him home in June, he looked like a baby still. Now he’s two going on four going on fifteen. He just has issues from time to time (although we are going on a month now with no ED visits!) with colds settling into his lungs and causing his oxygen levels to drop to somewhere in the 80s due to some blood backflow in his mitral valve. He also will need a pacemaker sometime in the future. That’s basically it.

So that brings us back to patience. Why? Because now, of all times, is when we actually would request prayers for patience. (And not just because someone—hint hint Jet—is now two years old, although more prayers couldn’t hurt.) Because right now, we are stuck. Stuck in between needing surgery and not. Stuck waiting for the next breathing episode (as I write this Jet is sleeping with a very bad case of the sniffles and a slight cough). Stuck, because we want to get these issues fixed now and we can’t because he isn’t sick enough.

So does that make us bad parents because we need and sometimes want him to get sicker so that we can get this show on the road? Probably. At the very least, it might make us selfish. Waiting for the next cold or asthma attack puts you on the edge. And it is so very, extremely hard to see your child struggling to breathe when just 24 hours—or sometimes even ten minutes--before he seemed fine. But sometimes it feels unfair to him too.

Jet consistently keeps his doctors on their toes, going from “yes, let’s schedule surgery (Nov. 2016)” to “no, we should wait (Dec. 2016)” to “well, we could do it but you wouldn’t get a lot of benefit yet at this point so let’s keep waiting and see you in three months (Jan. 2017).” It’s an incredibly weird feeling to leave the cardiologist’s office both disappointed, relieved…and content. Disappointed because our wait is not over, relieved because open heart surgery is a scary thing…but ultimately content—because we know he is in good hands, but most importantly, he is in God’s hands.

The struggles that we anticipated with adoption are not the struggles we are fighting. Ours are more internal. Bonding has not been an issue. Attachment has not been an issue. Even the tests, hospital stays, and doctors’ appointments, while tedious and frustrating and sometimes scary, haven’t been an issue. No, our biggest issue is not being in control. Not being patient enough to cede control. Our earthly desires to “just get this over with” are not what God is wanting us to learn right now. I do not think God could make it any clearer that right now, we need to practice some patience and letting Him be God. Ezekiel 36:26 says “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

What we’ve learned so far in our journey is that Jordan’s physical heart—while needing some routine maintenance—has never been the problem. Our spiritual hearts are the ones that needed—and still need—work. 

God will strengthen…He surely has—and will continue.  


Andrea Olson said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Mary and Derek!

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