Called Home to God

My husband and I have friends who were practically adopted by my mother-in-law years ago, so we’ve always considered them part of my husband’s “family.” Two months ago they called us and asked, “So how hard is this parenting thing anyway?” All I could do was laugh. We were thrilled to learn that they’d been selected by a birth mother to adopt a little boy diagnosed with Down Syndrome. My husband and I shared knowing smiles as they enthusiastically bubbled over with new parenthood anticipation.

Duncan arrived the evening of July 3 and, after a few hours with his birth mother, was delivered into the waiting arms of his new parents. Even now I’m smiling remembering the beautiful transformation of my friends as they became parents to a perfect little child who promised to bring a pure radiant joy and sweet innocent love into their home.

Everything seemed to be falling into place. In a world where adoption often becomes a messy legal story, the young mother remained firm in her decision and all legalities were proceeding smoothly.

Down Syndrome babies are checked thoroughly for any anticipated medical issues, especially their heart, but Duncan’s heart passed with flying colors. However, he seemed to have a little trouble with his colon, so they moved him to a major medical center for testing, which revealed a small section that didn’t work properly. They scheduled laparoscopic surgery to remove this tiny section for Tuesday morning with excellent long-term prognosis for recovery.

Monday night our family prayed for Duncan. In the prayer I asked God to guide the doctors and nurses, to be strength for our friends and their family while waiting, and to see Duncan through the surgery without problems. I also prayed for other babies in the NICU, who faced their own trials. My daughter remembers me saying that we know not every child will go home with their families, but be called to live with God in His heavenly home and I prayed for them as well.

As we waited for news of Duncan’s surgery Tuesday afternoon, we received a terrible phone call.

God called Duncan.

The details for us are unclear, but complications arose that prevented the doctors from saving him. What should be a joyful time has turned into unspeakable grief. We now sit numb with sorrow and pain. When we lose an elderly relative, we take comfort in that they lived a long life, a good life, shared the love of family and friends, and passed on their wisdom to others. When we lose infants…. there are no words, only tears. We have no understanding why this is the path for some parents. How some babies survive against overwhelmingly incredible odds while others die from what should have been a simple procedure.

Duncan Patrick

I give thanks to God for the nine beautiful days that turned our friends into parents. I thank God that this little boy knew their unconditional love all of his short life and who will be remembered in our hearts for all of ours. I thank God that his birth mother chose life for her son and gave that greatest gift of all to him. I pray for all involved with Duncan, that they may heal in their grief and remember the joy he brought.


Shelly Henley Kelly