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A somewhat rare combination of mother tiger and attorney advocate, my world changed in 2002. After having my two boys, we finally got pregnant with our third child, Callie. She would be our first daughter. At the five month ultrasound, we were told that she would not live even two more weeks, let alone until her due date several months later. We were devastated. Encouraged to end the pregnancy by medical professionals (with a medical certainty that my little girl could not sustain life outside the womb), we knelt in humble prayer. With potential medical issues and tremendous suffering, we did not know what to do. We had two other children we had to be strong for, but this little one was also part of us. After many nights of tears, Heavenly Father blessed us with the answer. We were to carry Callie. Her initials were CAN so that each time I prayed, I would remember "I CAN do all things through Christ who stengtheneth me" in Philippians 4:13. For four more months, I had the joy of carrying my first little girl. Much to medical surprise, she was born alive and lived eight precious minutes after birth. After Callie's death, we had the opportunity to adopt two more beautiful daughters who are now part of our family as well. One daughter has special needs. As her attorney mom, I reopened my law firm to advocate for kids in our system. God had a beautiful plan. He wanted me to have three daughters in my eternal family instead of one. I am forever grateful.
On the way to an appointment for Callie, I said to my husband, in sadness, "What are the odds of having a child with our child's birth defects? About 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 300,000, depending on the issues. What are the odds of it happening to us?" Please know that I didn't wish this on anyone else, but couldn't help thinking how on earth we were the ones, out of everyone around us, carrying a dying baby. My husband's next words will stay with me forever, "Michele, what are the odds, out of all of heaven, of being selected to be the parents of a child so precious, so pure that she did not have to endure the tests of this life and gets to automatically return to the presence of our Heavenly Father? They are the same. 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 300,000. You have to feel pretty special when you think of it like that." And we do. The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us knowledge that through holy temples, families can be together forever - not just this life - but forever. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we know where our daughter is right now. We know we will see her. For a parent who has lost a child, there is no more beautiful promise. Likewise, as we fight for children with special needs, we understand that the adversities and trials of this life are relatively short lived when compared with the blessings of eternity. When I see all that third little girl has endured, I know that her burdens will ultimately be lifted by the Savior as well. " I CAN do all things through Christ" means that I can live again with my daughter, Callie, and that I can endure all that this life brings because I am never alone. As long as I hold hands with Jesus Christ, I can walk on the water with Him. He is my life, my breath, my Savior. And, because of Him, I CAN.
When Callie died, each of my beautiful little girls who came to my life through adoption reminded me of the beautiful connection of family. As I watched my third child struggle with serious special needs, I dusted off my law books and reopened my law practice to fight for kids with special needs. Parents of children with special issues are often overwhelmed, unheard, and lost. Having to learn and adapt to various disorders is hard enough without having to fight in systems that sometimes don't provide the resources our children need. As a mom of a special needs child and an attorney, I reach out to other families like mine to give them the support to get resources our precious children need and deserve. Each time I do, I remember these children are not ours, they are Heavenly Father's children. When a case is tough or I wonder if I can really provide the needed help, I think of David and Goliath. When there is opposition to helping special needs children, I remember that I may only have five little stones, but, beside me, is a mighty God with incredible aim. Nothing is too big for God. He loves His children and He fights for them daily. With Him, all things are possible.