Graham’s Story

In 1987, my life changed forever. My husband Rich and I were the blessed and proud parents of three healthy sons. That summer, our six-month-old, Graham, almost died from spinal meningitis. He was diagnosed shortly before for a simple ear infection, but his condition got worse and worse, so I rushed him to the hospital.

He stopped breathing on the way there. “This is not happening,” was all I could think as I watched the medical professionals fight to resuscitate him. They were able to re-start his heart, but Graham had suffered permanent brain damage.

This was the beginning of our journey as parents of a special needs child. Everything shifted in our lives. In an instant, we went from what was normal to a challenge every day for the rest of our parenting lives.

Graham’s behavior as he developed was violent and erratic. At four years old, he would run down the street screaming and tearing his clothes off. In church he would attack other children. At home, he would bring big knives into our bedroom while we were sleeping. For everyone’s safety, we had to install special locks all over the house.

Our lives were upside down.

It was impossible to take Graham to a restaurant or the grocery store because of his out-of-control rages.

I wasn’t ready for this, I didn’t want this.

God had volunteered me for it. God had to stand firm in my life because I was so angry. I asked Him, Why did this happen to me? What’s the purpose? How could this be your will? Sometimes, God doesn’t always answer the way we want Him to. But He stepped in at the point of our weakness and gave us the strength we needed to parent Graham.

Graham is now 26 years old. God has done a progressive miracle in his life, and he has grown more that I would ever have thought possible in those early, frustrating years. He has also brought a compassion to the hearts of every member of our family, a compassion we probably could not have learned in any other way.

I thought the worst thing that could happen to me was having a child of mine become permanently less than what I expected. But that “worst” thing turned out to be the very thing that propelled me to my destiny—and built me into the person I am now. We are all better people for having Graham in our lives.

Our background has given us an opportunity to share our experience, and the ways God has worked through it, with other parents of special needs children. Rich and I are working on a new book for parents and family members of special needs children. We hope our experiences with Graham can help other families see what a blessing adversity can be.

We were lucky enough to appear on a recent Joyce Meyer program and share about our journey with Graham. Click here: Raising Special Needs Children to go to the video.