My life raising kiddos has been full of excitement, as well as challenges. Steven has been my most difficult child to raise. The 7th child born to a woman who was mentally ill and addicted to crack cocaine and heroin, we took Steven home from the neonatal unit as soon as he was able to be released.  He was unbelievably “messed up”.  (Don’t you just love my knowledge of medical terms?)  He cried constantly, his whole body twitching.  Once I learned to swaddle him tightly in a baby blanket, keep the room dark, and talk in a whisper, he could tolerate my presence.  To touch him lightly would make him scream in pain, but cuddling him strongly, the deep pressure somehow calmed him.

Whether due to the drug exposure, or just because his birth mom was mentally ill, Steven exhibited extreme symptoms of ADHD, autism, bi-polar disorder, sensory integration deficit, obsessive compulsive disorder,severe anxiety disorder and learning disabilities.   (The whole concept of “diagnosis” is fraught with contradictions in my mind, as the “diagnosis” with which he was labeled were arbitrary, useless except for the benefit of getting special education services. We were fortunate to find a psychiatrist with vast knowledge of children born addicted to drugs, and he became our mentor.  Like myself, he does not not believe in labels, but in treating the symptoms.)

Steven has led an interesting life.  With his Asperger’s-like super knowledge of reptiles, and an uncanny natural love for children, he has shined in these areas.  He would be fascinated with the foster babies in our house, and his most favorite activity was sitting in the rocking chair by my side and rocking a little one.  He is, however,  unable to understand the concept of money, wear shirts with tags in them,  eat textured foods or adapt to an unexpected change in his schedule.  A strict, structured environment and predictable schedule has been the key to helping him manage every day life.

As any parent, I have thought a lot about his future and how he could possibly survive as an adult…

Then, a miracle happened…he found the perfect girlfriend to love him! Wonder of wonders!  Joy of joys!  I never thought is was possible, but the adage “there is someone for everyone” is true in his case!

Wonderfully patient Alexandra loves to keep everything controlled.  Where other young men would go running in the other direction at the sight of a young woman in strict control, for Steven, it was just what he needed!  She manages their time, his money, and their life together with strict precision.  JUST WHAT HE NEEDED!   They also have similar interests in reptiles, with Steven using his vast knowledge to ensure the safe upbringing of their many “pets”; three turtles in a tank, (recently caught in the lake behind our house, during one of their day long fishing adventures,) a small snake, a Chameleon and two lizards.  They are affectionate with each other, with Steven smiling brightly as she gives him deep bear hugs. The icing on the cake, as far as both of them are concerned, is her young daughter.  Again, where other young men would go running for cover, Steven goes running towards her sweet three year old daughter! He adores her!  This very large, 6 foot talk, husky, bi-racial, often scary looking young man who has an aversion to shaving, is like a loving angel with her daughter! He gently holds her hand to guide her when they are walking.  He plays Shutes and Ladders and Go Fish with her. He helps her pick out her clothes, (shirts without tags, of course!) Most amazingly, he has become her hair stylist, putting her hair up in braids and pony tails.  She loves showing off her new hair styles, proudly telling everyone that STEVEN did it, as they both stand there and beam happily!  She needed a dad to love, and Steven needed a family of his own. He adores Alexandra and she has a huge calming affect on him. And he has such a natural caring for children, and for Emily in particular, that it melts my heart every time I see the three of them together.  He LOVES them…an emotion I once thought he would never feel…as a boyfriend, (husband?), and father. Yes, he has found comfort in his own family…and has a content, structured, “normal” life.  Isn’t that amazing?????  Miracle of miracles!!

Is there no greater joy as a parent than seeing your child happy as an adult? Especially when you thought that may never happen…



To read about Steven’s early childhood, here is a link to my book:


The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

Also, for just the cost of transportation, I am available to do presentations for your groups.   I can be funny on serious subjects…


Comments on: "Miracle of Miracles: Turtle Tanks and Pony Tails" (109)

  1. strawberryquicksand said:

    Reblogged this on Strawberryquicksand and commented:
    This blog I`m reposting in an amazing story. I hope all my friends with kisd on the specttun get to read it. Please excuse typos as im posting from my phone… which i hate… but i couldnt bear to let this post slip through the cracks.

  2. strawberryquicksand said:

    I just reblogged this amazing post. Thank you for sharing that story. I think it will bring hope to many.

  3. Inspiring story of your love and passion and his growth from it! Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Hurray for Steven. And thanking God for you. May your example and Steven’s journey be an encouragement to parents and loved ones of children with disabilities or children in general. There is hope. Praise God. I so appreciate your post.

    • HOPE! yes, HOPE!
      I have to admit, I’ve led a very spiritual life, always believing in the silver linings, and that God “don’t make junk”, (a favorite saying of my mother’s). Steven’s happiness and new relationship has blown me away. It was more than I ever dared to hope for!

  5. Beautiful!!! God is faithful!!!

  6. hkate248 said:

    Incredible story! Thanks so much for sharing! Having a son with ADHD and Asperger’s, I often think about his future and the potential struggles he’ll have as an adult. It’s so wonderful to hear a story like this. It fills my heart with hope and love! Blessings to you and Steven!

  7. I loved your blog. It is nice to hear something positive for people with mental disabilities. My duaghter Rachel is bipolar and is married with two beautriful daughters. She married a young man she grew up with.

  8. You and your husband are amazing for taking in children with special needs. Thank God that Steven met Alexandra, but more so, thank God he found you and your husband.

  9. How beautiful – another reminder of the Power of Love! Letting to and letting be…..so the healing waters of Grace can flow. peace…..kai

  10. Dude damn you I’m crying in a diner right now. You paint such a wonderful portrait of Steven and his life. Thank you for sharing this story. It’s easy to think we’re unlovable even without his challenges. This sands as a pillar for all that ying has its yang.

  11. I appreciate you for being willing to take in and lovingly raise up children who suffer the “world’s” consequences and show them that there is good in the World! I am so encouraged by reading your stories!

  12. This is SO. TRULY. BEAUTIFUL! What a testimony to God’s grace! A child that most would consider hopeless or throw-away (or that should have been aborted it) has grown into a gifted, loving adult who is helping make another child’s life better! May God bless you richly for what you are and have been doing! And I hope that this helps make up for the many difficult years that went before, making this outcome shine even brighter by comparison to what went before.

  13. I love this post! I think it will give people who read this in similar situations a more positive outlook with a glimmer of hope. My youngest brother has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It’s a purely physical disability where his muscles pretty much get weaker and weaker till hes in a wheelchair and very dependent on others. He is struggling with who he is and who he wants to be and how to have a “normal life” and I will be sharing this with him! Thank you!

  14. Wow, it put a big smile on my face.. For a child with suck a horrible start in life, to grow into a man with his own family is fantastic…

  15. What an inspiring story about love. Your love for Steven and how it has blossomed and grown from there. Thank you

  16. What a wonderful story, how amazing that Steven has found the love of his life and a child that he adores. I will tell that to my sister, she is autistic and called me last night despondent that there is no special someone for her. This will give her hope.

  17. This gave me so very much hope for my future. Thank you so much!

  18. Wow. How wonderful for you and for him. I often work with children who think and learn and act differently I wonder what will become of them as they grow up and move away from home. Thank you for giving me hope.

  19. Little Minds Big Hearts said:

    That’s an amazing story. You are truly a blessing for what you have done for Steven.

  20. You are amazing. This truly touched my heart. The world really needs more people like you! Good for Steven! I’m happy for him! Such an inspiring story!

  21. Such a beautiful story. I believe there is a soul mate out there for everyone. It looks like your son found his. The fact that she is perfect for him and has a beautiful daughter for him to love also is totally a bonus. I know what you mean when you say it is great to know your child is happy as an adult. I am grateful my daughter is married and happy in her life.

  22. It is amazing and incredible and wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Indeed there is someone for everyone and he found someone very special. God is good.

  23. I really needed this right now! I’m crying…crocodile tears of joy. I pray that this will be a very long relationship (family) and that so many people will learn from this. Beauty…there is nothing more beautiful that this 😉 . I have goosebumps. Thank you for sharing your family. And, the turtle tank is amazing! Please take care! 😀

  24. Truly wonderful!

  25. really amazing and very touching! It’s your unconditional love to Steven that made him a wonderful person and yes…loveable 🙂

  26. Sometimes people are just lucky enough to find those who fit their peculiarities well and your Steven along with Alexandra and her sweet daughter… How lucky they all are! This is so beautiful!

  27. You are a true inspiration. To make such a difference in people’s lives is amazing. We have 3 adoptedchildren and know something of the challenges. and your experience is really valuable to us. thank you so much for sharing. David

  28. Reblogged this on Brotherly Love and commented:
    A heartwarming story, where happy endings are not the norm.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I figure if Steven could do it, with all of his serious problems, then just about anyone can do it!

      • You and of course Steven deserve the credit for this. Your innovation, sensitivity to his needs and your appropriate intervention saved his life, and show others what is possible.

        In the case of my brother, the best possible outcome for him was to have the right people caring for him. My parents did all they were capable of doing but it was not enough. Nobody could have done any better. Mike is not a success story. I’m just glad that he is properly attended to.

        I venture to say that there are plenty of people like Steven who never get the chance to make it and plenty of people like Mike who are not capable of making it and who are not cared for or treated very well at all.

        Once more, your story shows your great compassion and skill at caring. You made a huge difference.

      • Thank you!

        My brother sounds a lot like your brother. He was deaf/blind, autistic and eventually developed schizophrenia. He was fortunately to live in a wonderful group home, and he would come home on weekends. You are so right that the best possible outcome is to have the right people caring for him.

  29. Reading your story brings me hope for my daughter as well. Thank you for sharing

  30. Brought tears to my eyes as I read your book a few months ago. This is so awesome!

  31. Praise be to God! All glory to You, Lord! Amen!!

  32. In my experience quality of life is the greatest measure of rehabilitation. this is what I pondered while I read your post. If I were you I’d feel like the work is fully done with a successful conversion. congratulations!

  33. What a beautiful and inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing. My boyfriend’s son is special needs and when I shared this with him, he felt inspired and hopeful. We are thrilled for your entire family that Steven found great loves in his life – the family he grew up with and the one he is creating now.

  34. I worked with special needs children for years and saw some happy endings, but this story tops them all. Thank you for being there for Steven, and for the rest of us as well.

  35. What an incredibly hopeful post … amazing!!! Thanks for sharing these slices of your life! They are so encouraging!

  36. Thank you for sharing this very inspiring story.

  37. This is an amazing story! Im glad everything came together!

  38. Reblogged this on Coffee and Cigarettes with a Bit o' Whiskey and commented:
    I just had to reblog this! I came across this and it really made my heart sing. Not only because of a very loving mother but because there truly is someone out there for everyone. 🙂

  39. My husband and I are considering adoption as our next step, and I’ve been praying about and thinking through what it might mean to adopt a child with medical problems. This post is encouraging to me. I don’t know what we will do. We are a few years out from being able to pursue adoption, but I hope that if we do adopt a child with disabilities or medical problems we will be able to support them and love them as you have supported and loved your son.

    • The medical problems are the easier things to deal with, it is the emotional and mental health issues that are more challenging.
      I wish you luck for your future family. I hope things work out as well for you as they have for us!

    • The medical problems are the easier things to deal with, it is the emotional and mental health issues that are more challenging.
      I wish you luck for your future family. I hope things work out as well for you as they have for us!

    • The medical problems are the easier things to deal with, it is the emotional and mental health issues that are more challenging.
      I wish you luck for your future family. I hope things work out as well for you as they have for us!

  40. What a source of hope this is!

  41. Oh that is so wonderful. He has a happy ending.

    Blessings to this little family.

    Maria Chapman bubbygirl1972@gmail.com

    “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

  42. I LOVE the light at the end of the tunnel….very promising for my own situation!

  43. Such a beautiful reward for your years of giving and sacrifice. A blessing to read! Thank you

  44. What a blessing that Steven had you for a mother. God bless you …..namaste. . . .Anne

  45. This is an amazing story to smile at..it is unfortunate they dont always end thai way. It is AMAZING what YOU havdone and steven turned out this happy because of YOU xox J9;)

  46. This story is warming to the heart. I am in the process of reading your book and was just wondering the other day how Steven was doing in his adult life. I am thrilled that things are going well!

  47. What a blessing to see your nurture and care manifest itself in your son and that it is being passed to another generation. Well done, mom. I’m celebrating with you!

  48. What a beautiful love story! They should produce a movie abt Steven. He is truly a miracle, but without the right parent to raise him up, none of it would be true. You are also a miracle. I have often been heard saying, while observing a disabled child, that I “couldn’t do it” – that God knows who to bless with special children and who not to. But, that being said – I also didn’t think I would ever be able to take care of a bedfast parent – and yet I am doing it!! God Bless you for your willingness and open heart – there is more needed in this world today.

  49. Beautiful. Truly. Steven is a story of hope and love, to be certain. Best wishes to them!

  50. Pastor Roland Ledoux said:

    You didn’t tell me I would need some Kleenex with me Sis!! But what a great story of inspiration and hope. It goes to show what the Word says is so true, “With man some things may not be possible, but with God, All things are possible!” I loved this so much. I hearkened back memories to one of Susie’s and my best friends who has since gone to be with the Lord. Her grandson had Asperger’s and they had such a hard time with the school system (we lived in a small community 80 miles east of Phoenix, AZ at the time) and the teachers were so impatient and yet little Jeffrey was so bright in certain things and especially when it came to color association. His grandma used to bring him with her to our in-home Bible studies and he was never a problem. He used to love to color AND to play with Lego’s. He would build some of the greatest buildings and vehicles with no instructions. I will never forget them as they were certainly a blessing from the Lord in our lives at that season in our lives!
    God bless for this Sis, and may you be continually blessed as you inform, educate, inspire and encourage your brothers and sisters in the Lord!!

  51. Thanks for this post. We can feel how thrilled you are! It gives us hope for our son Nathan, who is 21 and shares a lot of traits with Steven. Thanks also for what you said about diagnoses. It expresses the ideas I’ve been grasping at over the last few months.
    Wanted to let you know, you remind me a lot of our younger son’s foster mom. Bev and her husband were foster (and sometimes adoptive) parents to more than 40 teenagers, then switched to being foster (and sometimes adoptive) parents to more than 40 medically fragile babies, including the infant who would become our son Alan. Bev had a great spirit, along with know-how. He was lucky to have been placed with them, as your kids are to have you. I’m so grateful the world has people like you and Bev!

  52. janet565 said:

    Reblogged this on Climbing the Cinder Cone and commented:
    Here’s a post from a great blog that I highly recommend. It is a story of hope! In addition to sharing the happy turn of events in her son’s life, this inspiring mom makes a good point in the 2nd paragraph about diagnoses. The comments on the blog post are also a worthwhile read. You are not alone!

  53. Amazing! So happy for all of you!!!

  54. What an ENCOURAGING post. Thank you. The youngest of my six adopted children is now 30. He has a MILD mental disability and has been unable to find a girlfriend. Likewise, I worry about what will happen to him when I’m gone. He can look after himself, but not well without supervision. Can’t cook, drive etc. You have given me hope that he might still find someone. Love you!

    • I love your for reading!
      Good luck to your son…have him “get out there”…
      I work with a recreation group for adults with disabilities and we always have at least one wedding a year… I know mainstreaming is all the rage, but for social events, sometimes it is good to be with people with similar issues.

  55. How beautiful life is when we just let God work! I really enjoyed reading your story…filled with hope, passion, and joy! As a teacher that works with children with special needs, I am indeed overjoyed when I hear success stories…be it academic, social, physical, or emotional. It is indeed the little blessings each day that make life wonderful! God bless and keep you and your family!

  56. What a touching story! I think every parents wants to see their kids happy. I hope I make my mom so proud!

  57. Thank you for this account of Steven. I have a son who also happens to be adopted that had high anxiety as a child and later turned to drugs. He is in a wonderful therapeutic community right now learning skills to help him through life without drugs. He is such a fabulous person. I pray daily that he, too, will find a wife that will be perfect for him and make him contentedly happy and help him become his very best self.

  58. How wonderful. My heart is glad for them and for you his family.

  59. I wonder what it is about tags that set off the sensory warning bells. My son born very early and then suffering a brain injury has the same aversion to tags. He also hates the bumpy designs on shirts to the point of picking at them till they are gone. If woven into the shirts, he will always pick a different shirt. The tactile issues are fascinating to observe now that I recognize them too instead of getting frustrated at his refusal to wear a shirt he picked out to buy (often because it had a comic hero he likes on it).

    My father in law’s toast at our wedding was how happy he was to have all three of his daughters happily married because it meant he had done his job. I hope I get to celebrate my children’s’ love and happiness as they grow older. In fact, I can’t think of any thing I want more.

    Congratulations for both Stephen and you.

    • My opinion about the sensory issues comes from what I have observed in Steven…light touch actually “hurts” him. His nervous system reads it as pain. I remember shopping with him in the grocery store and I gently stroked his arm, and he started screaming and yelling that I was hurting him, and people came running! He does not register pain from real pain so much…broke his leg…didn’t cry. Had a gash that needed 25 stitches…didn’t cry. He can be full of cuts and bruises and it doesn’t bother him. Touch him gently on the shoulder and he screams in pain. It has been an interesting life, to say the least!

      • Wow. That’s my son. At age 3 he insisted on running rather than taking the skooter to go around the block. At the end of our street, he face planted on the side walk. I could see a little scrape, but I could also tell he was fine by the pause before the crying. In any event, the pain of scraping his face on the sidewalk was little enough that I was able to convince him to apologize to the sidewalk because obviously his head had cranked it.

        Hearing “I’m sorry sidewalk.” in his little paralyzed vocal cord left me fighting laughter because I know if I fell that way I would have howled. It’s still one of his favorite stories about how he acted as a kid. However, like Stephen a gentle touch is frequently too much for him to handle.

  60. That is so wonderful that he has found what he needs! You’re right. There is no greater joy as a parent than seeing your child happy as an adult. Beautiful post.

  61. Wow what an amazing journey you have chosen for your life. I will for sure revisit your blog and read more! Full of gems for life’s lessons.

  62. Very heart warming.

  63. Another wonderfully amazing and inspirational post! This is why we all love to follow your blog 🙂 And so, I’ve nominated you for the WordPress Family Award. Here is the link for more info: http://knittingwithheart.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/the-wordpress-family-award-❤/

  64. fluttergirl35 said:

    Crying! ACTUALLY crying right now. Beautiful. So happy to read something so uplifting. Axx

  65. I can feel your joy…! I’m very happy for him.

  66. What an amazing gift! Life is always a gift. ALWAYS. Here, you show that with such a beautiful story. How sweet and how joyous! Wonderful job mama!

  67. I enjoy reading your blog. You bless me. thanks for being out in cyperspace. I nominate you for the WordPress Family Award. Here’s a linki for info: http://sheilamariegrimes.com/2013/06/15/wordpress-family-award/

  68. That is a beautiful story!

  69. As always…..you bring others the gift of hope.

  70. Reblogged this on Laughter: Carbonated Grace and commented:
    Awesome gift of hope for a rich adult life filled with love for those with severe Aspergers

  71. Your family is always an inspiration to me. I sometimes make my life a little sad by worrying but you all plunge right in, get it done and lived in the happiest ways. I like the story about Steven, as I think all the children are fascinating subjects. You and your husband have wonderful gift of being there, loving and sharing these with others really encourages others.

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