It’s hard to believe that five years ago, we first set eyes on our future son at an orphanage in Guatemala. It was the scars on his face that God used to move our hearts toward adoption. When Jesus asked, ‘who would I choose’ for your family, we unanimously agreed that it was Juan Pablo. Not only did we pursue him for the calling, but fell in love with JP’s kind, compassionate, and playful heart. We knew that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy to care for a child with this special need, but would trust the Lord to be faithful to provide wisdom and direction for his future needs.
When JP was a baby, he suffered burns of up to 80% of his body from an accidental explosion about which we know very little. We believe and share with our son that Jesus was with him during and after the accident and it was a miracle to live through this in a 3rd world country. Early treatment consisted of skin grafts to daily application of ointments on his face. We knew that by choosing to follow God’s plan to adopt Juan Pablo, there would be decisions to make in regard to treatment of his burns. Upon arriving to the United States, we arranged for a visit with the International Adoption Clinic at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis to assess JP’s overall health. Our consulting physician referred us to a plastic surgeon who specializes in burns. From that meeting, we learned that as Juan Pablo ages, his jaw will have difficulty growing and the skin on his face will not stretch with his growth. We have noticed this already in his difficulty opening his mouth and his smile pulling down skin beneath his eye. The surgeon informed us that we would have to do something for Juan Pablo in the next couple of years. We were pleased to hear that there were other options that were less invasive and would look better rather than taking additional skin grafts.
After absorbing the information, we prayed for months asking for wisdom to make the best decision possible for our son and the timing of it. The procedure we have chosen consists of expanding skin by inserting a balloon like object in the neck, which will remain there for up to 3 months. The reason for the neck as the location is because it most closely matches the good skin on his face. Each week, we will drive to Indy for the surgeon to evaluate the skin expansion process and fill the balloon as needed. At 3 months, the expanded skin in his neck will be pulled up to his cheeks and chin while the scarred skin is removed. The first part of the procedure to insert the skin expander(s) will take place on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010. We felt that winter would be the best time to begin this process since JP can’t be as active usual. The more invasive surgery will take place in March and he will probably need a couple more surgeries in the future.
Over the past 6 months, God has been preparing us and Juan Pablo for this procedure. We chose Juan Pablo because of his burns and fell in love with his face. We will forever remember Juan Pablo as when we first met him. A change in his appearance, however, will not change his compassionate heart nor his infectious laugh and smile. We pray that as his appearance alters, his testimony of God’s grace will remain and motivate him in the work the Lord has prepared for him in the future. We ask that you lift up JP and us in prayer over the next several months as we respond by faith to the giant of surgery and its journey.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians12:9)