this is motherhood {too}: a *very* special needs adoption journey

July 15, 2014, This is Motherhood Too, 24 Comments

this is motherhood {too}By Jessica Paulraj

In September 2014, we will celebrate our oldest son’s 3rd birthday. His name is Adam and from what medicine and logic predicted, he was not supposed to live past 2 months.  Three years? How quickly they seem to have passed as I look back. Fourteen surgeries have come and gone for Adam. Nearly $300,000 was given on his behalf. Two brothers, Elliot and Rohan, joined the ranks of our family, and Adam became an older brother. Our family has traveled from India to America and back again.

On September 18th, 2011, a new level of pain entered my life. Or rather, my husband and I invited it. We adopted it in.

But, on that same day, undeserved mercy and beauty entered our lives too. We did not know we were inviting them in. But He knew. And He brought them in.

Let me back up and share a bit of our story.

Our son Adam was born in September 2011. He was born in rural Northeast India where we were serving at the time in a small mission hospital—my husband as a Psychiatrist and I as a nurse. 

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Adam was born with no eyelids, no fingers, webbed legs, and a severe cleft of the lip and palate. He was considered a curse and left by his family. Despite persistent pleas from hospital staff, he was left alone. In man’s feeble understanding and finite wisdom, Adam was without hope. But in a Divine Creator’s infinite love and wisdom, he had incredible hope. 

I remember a question that hit me as we were in the process of adopting. We were told that Adam would not live longer than a few weeks. Palliative care was the only option.

Can I raise a dying child?

Again and again this question consumed me. 

Can I love him as my own and treasure each moment knowing he is dying?

I imagined so much pain. I feared not having joy or time.

But God’s still small voice echoed in the darkness of the deep confines of my heart and mind: Jessica, my daughter, you, too, are dying. Raja, your beloved husband, he too is dying.

Yes, our Spirits will live. But this body, it is fading.

After all, didn’t Solomon tell us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die…?”                                               

For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever”    

Yes, we are eternal beings. That I know. And in that I rejoice. We will one day see all things made new! The idea that we are all dying is not fatalistic. It is Truth. Each year that passes, I see changes in my own body. We age and no man knows if he is guaranteed tomorrow.

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Again, in my spirit, He asked, “Did you choose to not marry Raja because one day he may die before you?”  


“Do you love him or any of your family and friends less because of unavoidable death?”


I love them deeply in this moment. Then why should I question loving, adopting, and caring for this precious boy because medicine says he will have a shortened life?

So much has passed since then. There have been many operations and many disappointments. There have been joy filled moments and tear filled moments. Adam has surpassed all of our expectations. Limits are on Adam no longer. He is thriving. 

There have been setbacks. But, still, he has amazed us. Adam crawls and bounces across the room when he hears his dad come home. He loves to look at books and inspects toys incredibly closely. He has the most adorable glasses and looks quite dapper in all the caps that have been given to him over the years. He is learning to make sounds with a valve over his trach tube and he is slowly learning to eat by mouth.  Throughout all of this, he is wrecking people’s lives (mine and my husband’s most of all) with the Truth of the Gospel, namely, our own adoption and the power of love and life.

There have been many sleepless nights, many seemingly hopeless moments, and many times that the fibres of my being seemed to be unraveling.  adam and elliot.jpgBut, dear ones, it has only served to refine and sanctify this frail little heart. He, our Lord, is likened to a Refiner.  And, you know how gold is refined, don’t you? In fire. In the heat. In the intensity of it. That is where gold is beautified. If His ways are likened to that, why do we expect anything less? Not only that, but OH! The fellowship of the suffering that we have entered into. To see His design unfolding. It is all just so crazy beautiful.

Let me share a little picture of this “fellowship” in suffering.

There was a patient admitted to our little hospital a few years ago with depression related to being paralyzed after a fall. He was the only child in his lower class Indian family. In their eyes, his future in school as an engineer was their only hope. Their idea of a hope crumbled and died when their son fell and was forever paralyzed from the neck down.

One night, my husband and Adam went to visit this patient in an attempt to offer some distraction from the everyday dullness and ache of a hospital ward.  

Adam, who rarely goes to others besides family, surprised Raja by sitting freely at the boy’s side. His little body, unformed and pieced back together so many times, balanced on the stretcher of a bed and watched the boy.  

It was as if an understanding pulsed through him—an understanding that exists between those who suffer physically in ways I cannot fathom.

Adam leaned down and fell onto him (most likely squishing the poor boy’s face with his hands to keep balance). And as he leaned in, Adams mouth met the boy’s cheek. 

It was the closest thing to a kiss we have seen from Adam.

All the patient could do was receive Adam’s kiss. Receive his love. His paralyzed arms could not protest. His legs could not flee. He could only lie there, with my son’s fingerless hands squeezing his face. Tears slowly streamed down this patients face, who had once been so calloused and hardened by the severity of his injury. He could see and feel the brokenness of Adam’s body that lay up against him—he could feel the drool and the love.

He just laid there, staring at Adam, his little mother weeping at the bedside.

That is the kind of Love that confronts me daily. There is fellowship. Fellowship in suffering.

Adam and Elliot

Adam and Elliot

At times I do not want to accept it. I do not want to see purpose in pain. I want to scream and I want to cry and I want to give up and I want to stop pressing into Him.  Because it is just all so unfair…

All these babies born sick, these young children robbed of life before the lunch bell rings, these momma’s dying in labor by preventable causes, these people trafficked and forgotten behind brothel doors, these loved ones perishing before we deem their time appropriate.

It is just all so dark and frightening and frustrating. In my finite eyes. But I forget the One who “works all things together for good.” I forget the One who is coming to “make all things new.”

I so quickly forget.

But then I see my oldest son again. I think of the first time he laughed and the miracle his laughter and his dimples are. I think of that paralyzed boy, comforted. I think of our new sister/houseguest/family member scarred from a brutal fire years ago who was finding it hard to carry on with such visible scars, but when she first cradled my Adam, she wept tears of joy because “if God created him and is using his life, then my life has purpose”.

And I just fall. On bloodied knees. Bloodied from kneeling again and again. Bloodied from bending low. Bloodied from crawling when the walking is too hard. And as I fall on these bloodied knees, my heart heavy and dark, His Word speaks:

Let there be light.

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Jessica, pregnant with Rohan, carrying both Elliot and Adam! Hero!

Yes, we are dying. Me and Adam both. And yes, it is hard to handle the stares and the questions again and again towards my son. And yes, I struggled when our other sons were born with all things formed. I wonder why Adam has to suffer. I am tired of sleepless nights at times, tired of feeling defeated somedays. 

But then the Author whispers to me “I will make all things new.”

And there is purpose. For our good and His glory.

About Jessica:Jessica Paulraj was raised on Florida shores, but she now makes her home in North India with her brave husband, Raja, who is a psychiatrist. Jessica came to India as a nurse with a passion for women’s health and the right of the girl child. She was teaching nursing in a nursing school in rural India when her son Adam entered their life thru the glorious ransom of adoption. Adam was joined by his brother, Elliot, 2 years ago and now has a newborn brother Rohan. She is convinced that a steaming cup of chai is remedy for any peril a day may bring and she loves exploring India by bicycle. She and her family are about to move back to the States for a season. You can stay up to date on life with 3 boys and her desire to see Light pierce darkness thru her blog


  • Reply Olivia Nolan November 14, 2016 at 3:29 AM

    You and your husband are so honorable….the love you have for your son is remarkable and should be the feeling every parent should have for their children. I cannot imagine the pain and grief you all are experiencing. However, I know little Adam’s life was full of love and happiness and no one can take that away. You and your family will meet again with Adam with the Father…until then much peace and blessings!♡

  • Reply Peter Millican - Woodstock School June 13, 2016 at 1:23 AM

    So sorry to hear about Adam. I am deeply touched by his and your family’s story. Adam is now rejoicing in heaven with a heavenly body and living in eternal happiness with Jesus.

  • Reply Cindy April 6, 2016 at 10:49 PM

    Thank you for sharing your life. Your journey and opening up your home for everyone to see just how beautiful motherhood truly is. It may or may not be how we imagined it to be but God has a plan bigger than us. For us.
    I admire you and your husband dearly for taking in ADam as my eldest is also named Adam.
    God bless you all.
    From Los Angeles, California.

  • Reply Marco Martinoli October 7, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Ciao Raja, Jessica and Baby Adam. I had the great fortune to meet you on a flight from USA to Europe. I want you to know that you have given me a gift. Like you, my wife and I, have adopted two beautiful children from India in 2001. Lorenzo Saroja and Amanda Kajal are now teenagers and like most teenagers, they are having some challenges. We are going through the challenges as a family and we keep in mind not to sweat the small things. Because of you I keep reminding myself to be grateful for the fact that Lorenzo and Amanda are healthy and thriving. Your gift of unconditional Love, acceptance and gratefulness will always stay with me. Hugs and kisses to you all. Marco

  • Reply linda danesh September 2, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    What a beautiful family. Adam is a blessing- brought tears to my eyes how he ministers to people! God bless you!

  • Reply Slava July 31, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    People keep saying plepoe don’t like hes because hes a white rapper. It not that its just that the plepoe that like rap don’t know him that much because he is is an actor and plays on these shows.

  • Reply Carlos July 31, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    People keep saying peploe don’t like hes because hes a white rapper. It not that its just that the peploe that like rap don’t know him that much because he is is an actor and plays on these shows.

  • Reply Yazan July 31, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    People keep saying pelpoe don’t like hes because hes a white rapper. It not that its just that the pelpoe that like rap don’t know him that much because he is is an actor and plays on these shows.

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  • Reply Courtney July 30, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    Amazing post, Jessica!! You are such an encouragement to me through this journey!

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  • Reply Carol July 20, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Love your blog. Learning so much about the facets of love with your journey. I was a special Ed teacher in Florida . Always wished I had adopted. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Reply Michaela Evanow July 24, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      Thanks Carol for writing! So glad to hear your thoughts.

  • Reply Cheryl White July 17, 2014 at 6:39 AM

    I have known Jessica since she was a nursing student and have followed her “incredible” journey all these years. I never tire of her posts and blog. I am encouraged and inspired. Her gifts and talents as a writer and woman of God are a blessing.

    I hope to see you when you’re in Tallahassee. Much love! Xxooxxxxx

  • Reply Kim July 17, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    Your family is an inspiration to us all. We love you!

  • Reply Renee July 16, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I love this family, and miss them dearly! Thank you for sharing their story.

  • Reply Bev Murrill July 15, 2014 at 10:35 AM


  • Reply Peggy Ward July 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing this great post from Jessica! She’s my hero(ine) too!

    • Reply Michaela Evanow July 15, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      I’m honoured to share this! Thanks for letting me know Peggy!

  • Reply Marchien from Holland July 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    What an amazing story and a beautiful family adopting this adourable son !! That is truly a child of God !! I just read so much love through this and that is the Love of Jesus Christ !! Thanks for sharing this story, it really touches my heart !!!

    • Reply Michaela Evanow July 15, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      So glad to hear this Marchien, and I’m sure Jess will be too! 🙂

  • Reply Rachel July 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    amazing story ! sending love and prayers to this family. xo

    • Reply Rachel July 15, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      (Sorry – worded that wrong haha. Sending love to this family & prayers to God for this family!)

  • Reply Andrea S July 15, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    What a beautiful story!

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