Parenting A Disabled Child (Part 1 of 3): When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers The Way You Hoped

Kevin Cain   -  

Pam and I prayed for children—for healthy children.

God answered and blessed us with a boy, born in a hospital in the mountains of Papua, Indonesia.  We counted his fingers and toes and let out a coordinated “Whew.” Ten of each!

We prayed for another child.

Like most parents, we prayed again for a healthy child.

We were serving God in a difficult part of the world.  Why wouldn’t He answer our prayers the way we wanted?

Kelsie was born almost two years later in Redondo Beach, a full ten weeks before her due date.  She spent five weeks in NICU, where we would visit her daily and hold her, in spite of all the tubes in her body.  Weighing just a hair over 3 lbs., she was incredibly small and beautiful.  When she hit 6 lbs., we packed her up and headed back to our isolated village in the hot swamps of Papua.

A quick trip back to the US when she was six months old gave us some unexpected news—Kelsie was blind and there was nothing surgically that they could do.  The doctors said it was possible that her sight was simply delayed, so keep an “eye” on things.  When her vision slowly came around at one year, we bundled her up for yet another visit back in the States.

The pediatric neurologist, to whom we were referred, assessed Kelsie briefly and muttered (as if to himself), “Well, she is a classic case of cerebral palsy.”  What?!?  What did he say?!?  He was surprised that we hadn’t heard this diagnosis yet, and he continued his thorough observations.  “I suggest six months of aggressive therapy to see how she responds,” he said.

Our beautiful little girl isn’t simply delayed but has “cerebral palsy.” What is that? How did this happen? “We’re serving you, God, in this blazing jungle with no electricity where few others are willing to serve, and you give us a daughter with cerebral palsy?” I simply didn’t understand.

Our understanding of what it means to be parents had just shifted quite radically.  We were just beginning to get a handle on parenting a healthy child. How could we be parents of a disabled child? “Oh God,” we wondered, “where are you?”