The second in our series - "Hope and Dreams". Meet Justin Hunter, Samson, and his family
We adopted our youngest child, Samson, when he was eighteen months old. He was placed in the protective custody of the state due to abuse and neglect. I hope his biological family wasn’t surprised that breaking their child’s leg and arm was a parenting no-no. The state tends to frown on that sort of thing. I’m not sure of the particulars, but I believe that his parent’s avoided prison by signing away their parental rights. The fact that they still have other children still living in their home is another way life tries to make you insane by attempting to make sense of it.
Samson would never have come to us if he weren’t labeled a ‘difficult placement’. While in the hospital recovering from his wounds, the doctors discovered an anomaly in a blood test. Further testing discovered that our little Samson has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative muscular disorder. This is a fast acting form of muscular dystrophy. Samson will most likely lose his ability to walk by the age of twelve. He will have breathing difficulties and probably heart disease beginning at the age of twenty. The longevity for people with Duchenne’s is about thirty.
We have two other adopted children in our home as well as a foster child. These children have their own issues, but their difficulties are cognitive and emotional, not physical. Bringing this new child home would bring a new set of challenges to our family. The good news is that my wife, Crystal, and I are incredibly stupid, so deciding to bring Samson home was a simple decision to make.
The bottom line was that we don’t hold any of our other children’s past against them, especially (and obviously) since it was out of their control. There was no reason why we couldn’t open our doors to this little boy who needed a home.
Samson is now two and a half years old. He has beautiful bright blue eyes and fine blonde hair that comes down to his shirt collar. He’s everything you would expect a child to be at his age. The fact that he is the youngest out of four kids hasn’t spoiled him one bit, no sir. Of course that is a vile lie. He’s spoiled. He is the most spoiled child in the world. I don’t help matters by calling him, “my precious little dewdrop” or “my angel straight from heaven.” In fact, I just put him in time out for smacking his brother with a wooden train track piece. His newly bruised brother came to his defense saying, “He’s just a baby.”
I was asked to blog about my hopes and dreams for Samson. I understand how my hopes and dreams for my special needs child will differ from those families who have typically developing children. The fact that I have hopes and dreams for my kid shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, nor will my first dream be a surprise to any parent who has a child with special needs.
I dream for a cure. I believe it can happen in his lifetime.
I am not a fool, and I am not in denial about my son’s diagnosis and what that means for his life. However, advances in medicine, treatment, and robotics that can enhance BOTH his quantity and quality of life are happening at an incredible rate. I hope that one day the degeneration of his muscles can be stopped. I hope that robotics can give him autonomy when he gets older.
My second dream is that he will eventually be able to live on his own. At least for a while.
Having a child with Samson’s disability actually frees me up from a lot of worries I have for my other children. Samson will probably be living at home for the duration of his life. This places him under my protective wing, saving him from all the suffering and harm that this big bad world has in store for everyone who ventures out into it. My other kids will move out, get jobs, have families, make choices (hopefully good ones) and live out their lives how they see fit. Samson will have to do none of these things. Sound great? It sure does for me. Like any parent, I don’t want my children to suffer. Samson will have a different opinion for sure. I am the greatest father any child could want, but living with me every day for the rest of their lives probably sounds like hell on earth to my progeny. My wife probably has the same opinion about living with me, but she is a kind person, and wouldn’t ever say that to my face. My point is that all of us love our parents - none of us wants to live with them when we grow up.
Every person wants to live their own life and make their own choices. Samson will want to be his own man. Crystal and I will do whatever it takes to make that possible. Whether it is possible will remains to be seen.
This might sound a little odd, but my last big dream for him is that he eventually gets a girlfriend.
I’m worried that people will feel sorry for him and not see the person beyond the disability. I hope that someone somewhere will love him for him. Maybe I should get him a $500,000 life insurance policy. The babes will come a runnin’. I’m kidding…sort of.
The bottom line is that I hope his disability doesn’t negate love. I think this speaks for every parent of a child with special needs. We hope that people can see beyond the disability to the person. I want Samson to have the opportunities that many of us take for granted. I want him to be able to make decisions for his own life. There’s a lot about what I want for him here, but it’s really about what he wants. I dream that one day he will eventually get to make that choice.