When Hector and I first decided to adopt, the adoption that led to Jose, way back when, we had made a little motto for ourselves . . . we would adopt the child “most in need of a home and least likely to get one.” We didn’t really understand at the time, exactly what that would mean for our life or our family.
Over time, we learned that older children in foster care, especially siblings that wanted to stay together were the children “most in need of a home” and that is how we came to adopt several older kids and teenagers. Along the way, a few babies snuck in here and there, and after a while we decided we had had enough with diapers, so we said “NO MORE BABIES”.
Just like our “no more babies” plan, we had also decided that we did not feel competent to adopt “medically fragile” children. So, when a four year old boy who was a victim of “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and was a “medically fragile” came to our attention, we didn’t initially think that we would personally adopt him.
God had other plans. I knew Dylan’s caseworker personally, and one day she called me saying, “Sue, I feel a little funny saying this, but I’d like to ask you and Hector to personally consider adopting Dylan. I just feel in my gut that he is a Badeau.”
I was somewhat speechless, but I told her I’d talk to Hector. We discussed it, prayed, talked to the other kids, and then decided to agree to at least meet Dylan and also his foster mom. We went to her home and met them both. She cautioned us about adopting him into a home with other children, pointing at that he was a “biter” and would chomp down on fingers or other body parts that happened to come near his mouth.
We asked if we could bring him to our house so the other kids could meet him, and it was approved. We all immediately fell in love with this darling little boy. Dylan was so sweet. He had an “angelic” countenance, a chubby little face and a contagious laugh. He could see, talk, walk, sit up, or make deliberate movements. But he could hear and laugh. He loved music (he had a favorite tape of the “Smurfs”) and weird sounds such as crinkling plastic, velcro, *farts* (or fart-like sounds one can make!) or the “hub-a-hub-a-hubba” sound David would great him with each night when he got home from work.
He was exactly the type of child we thought we could never adopt (so much for our “no more diapers” plan - Dylan will be in diapers FOREVER), but we fell in love with him immediately, and less than 24 hours later, we called the worker and said, “You were right - his name IS Badeau.”
Adding Dylan to our family has been an extraordinary gift - we have all grown and been enriched by his presence in our lives. In the final days of his life, as well as these days since he ended his earthly journey, we have all had time to talk about some of our favorite memories. Not surprisingly, many of them have to do with music and laughter. Everyone has their own Dylan stories. SueAnn remembers him reaching out to pet a puppy we had when we lived on Short Street. Flory remembers him
gritting his teeth when she tried to feed him and how she would whisper in his ear to make him laugh. About that laugh – Isaac is already missing it and wishing we had it on tape. I miss his laugh too. These are just a few examples. Renee will also share a few of hers in a moment. The common element of all of our memories is his cheerful and happy spirit. Life didn’t deal him a very good hand. He could have been miserable and complaining every moment of every day and it would have been totally understandable. He never got to run and play with other children, he couldn’t enjoy cookies and candy or ice cream, never attended a prom or played video games. He had to endure hefty amounts of pain and discomfort throughout his life, and yet he so rarely complained. He accepted the love that was given to him with smiles and good grace. He truly enjoyed nearly every minute of his life.
He was unique – he had his own personality and he knew each and every one of his parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, teachers and friends by their voice and presence. When he was scared or sad, his eyes would get big and he would make what we all called his “pop-eye face”. Yet the face we saw most often, and the face we will all always remember is his smile.
And he smiled especially when he got to go places – he loved going out whether for a walk in his wheelchair, or a ride in the school bus, or to church, or out to the restaurant on Easter, or on all the great camping trips we had together. Dylan got to experience the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park, and the Big Daddy of Em All Rodeo in Cheyenne Wyoming. He got to go to the beach and on merry go round rides and he even got to shake hands with President Clinton.
Last week, in the final hours of his life, many of us were privileged to be with him as he started that last passage on this life’s journey. He enjoyed a full hour of music – much of which we selected for our background music today, and then he had one final birthday party with all the little children joining in, singing, “Happy Birthday to You.” And one last taste of sweet potatoes.
Dylan, we know how much you love to travel , and so as you make this final voyage to your new home, I would like to end by sharing with you this poem by John Magee, modified a bit with your name and in your honor:
Oh, Dylan, you have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward you've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
You've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
Your eager self through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
You've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind you've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out your hand, and touched the face of God.