Give me the courage to change what I should, the ability to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know which is which.
April 11, 1998 my daughter, Sherry, called us (from California) requesting that we pick up her son, Doogie. Oregon residents, we often kept our grandson for months as she was a single mom. Packing quickly, we left.
April 13, 1998, sitting in a pediatrician’s office with Doogie (Christian Douglas Turner, I studied him closely. On the 22nd he'd be four-years-old; obviously he'd been through HELL: dehydrated, malnourished, his lips running sores, unable to keep food down, haphazardly shaven (lice), sores in his ears, scratches, bites and cigarette burns all over, his toes and fingers drawing into claws, loose flesh hanging from his feet. Still in diapers and on a bottle, Doogie was twenty-seven pounds and twenty-seven inches tall, wearing an infants' 18 month.
Everything frightened him—noises, water, sounds, touch, etc.—except Al and me. He screamed during the exam. I held him firmly while whispering comforting words.
"Doogie's been abused, neglected and God knows what else!" Dr. Svendsen said. (Doogie was a patient prior to Sherry taking him in October 1997--via the police.) "He looks and acts as if he's been in a concentration camp."
He held Doogie's feet out. "Soldiers get this: thrush foot from wearing damp socks and/or shoes."
Moving on to Doogie's toes and fingers: "We finally got the medical records … he has cerebral palsy, the cord wrapped around his neck at birth, coming breech, they had to do a C-section. He needs therapy to correct this OR, if done later, they'll have to break bones to straighten them."
A tear slid down his face. "I know why she wouldn't let you see the records—he has ROP with a probability of going blind. (Doogie was born at 5 months 3 weeks gestation weighing 1 pound, 10 ounces and was 10 inches long.) Surgery on such infants is thought to prevent total blindness but he's too old to consider the procedure now: it could make him lose his vision. Your daughter REFUSED the surgery. In fact, Stanford University has filed a complaint with Social Services that Doogie hasn't been seen for follow-ups since his release from the hospital at five months! He's not been getting medical care!
"If it were me …" he stopped suddenly.
"What can I do?"
"Take custody!" He paused. "You and your husband brought Doogie in faithfully for shots and exams. I'll turn your daughter into the State (of Oregon) for gross medical neglect asking that the child remain in your custody."
"You could lose your daughter … forever." He didn’t mince words. "What does Al think? Would it destroy your marriage? Could you handle one or both of those things happening?"
"God forbid that I allow another human to endure starvation, torture, mistreatment or lack of love." Doogie nestled closer. "Whatever I can do to save this child, God will help me … with your help, of course."
He shook his head. "You don't want to talk it over with Al? Talk to your daughter?"
"No!" I was content. "I prayed last night. God speaks through you. It is time to ACT!"
Suddenly the months of caring but worrying about tomorrow were gone as was the fear of further harm coming to this child. Whatever trials lay ahead, nothing was as horrid as the trials Doogie had faced solo, an innocent child.
We were threatened, harassed, reported to the FBI for kidnapping, etc. but were granted guardianship of Christian Douglas Turner by the State of Oregon.
After four years of therapy, his cerebral palsy is hardly noticeable.
However, Doogie's left retina detached March 24, 2001, was repaired but detached a second time and is now torn into small pieces. His right retina detached March 24, 2002, was repaired but the oil used to replace the vitreous fluid turned hazy. On Aug. 8, 2002 doctors attempted to drain and replace the oil. Instead the retina caved in. Doogie is one of those rare blind people to see only the brightest of light in pitch black.
Yet … Doogie believes in God, serves Him and reminds me daily of His joy! I am deaf; he is blind … we encourage one another to keep the faith. With God all things are possible!
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