We’re continuing our visit with Suzanne Marinace from Wednesday.
So glad you could (re)join us.
We left off with the Marinace’s moving to London for 3 years for Peter’s career.
Some of you expressed your lack of enthusiasm for being “put on hold.”
Hey, we’re here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
It keeps you coming back!
“When Daniel was a toddler, we moved to London where Peter had a position in commercial banking. In the fall, we had done a trip home to the U.S. and Daniel seemed to be losing weight. I took him to the doctor in November, and he didn’t ask me anything about symptoms. He thought Daniel possibly had the flu.
Right around Thanksgiving, we had dear friends visiting and their child got the flu. Again, we thought Daniel caught the bug; but it was very troubling, because when he threw up, nothing was processed. One evening he was particularly uneasy and lacking in peaceful rest at bedtime. I took him into my bed because of this. He started having seizures and didn’t recognize me. At 4:00 a.m., we raced to the hospital, and I jumped out of the car and ran inside with this lifeless, limp little body in my arms. I remember saying to the nurse, ‘Please, please help me. My child is dying.’ Within 25 minutes, the staff figured out that Daniel was diabetic; and that his number was so high he was nearly gone. At the time of this occurrence he was 2 years old. The diagnosis was Type 1 Diabetes. He was, in fact, so bad off that we had to take another ambulance and go to a hospital ICU where he had his own nurse for 7 days. They had to be extremely careful replacing the fluids and nutrients he had lost because of the potential for brain damage. We were in shock. I remember thinking, ‘We waited 17 years and just got him! Please, please God, don’t take him now!’ I called home because it was Thanksgiving, and all of my family was at my sister’s home for the holiday. My dad came through with that character I mentioned before. He got on the phone, called all of our family together, and even though ocean’s spanned our physical contact, we were united in prayer.
The thing is, I had taught over 600 children. They possessed a gamut of childhood maladies and illnesses: Autism spectrum, dwarfism, to name a couple, but I had never had a child with diabetes in my class. I think that is why I wasn’t aware of the signs: bed wetting, extreme thirst, fruity breath smell.
Type 1 Diabetes has an assumption on the part of most people. People tend to lump it with Type 2 Diabetes which is not necessarily insulin dependent. You can cure Type 2, because the body in this case has the ability to restore the pancreas. Type 1 has no options. You are dependent upon insulin (in Daniel’s case a pump), to BE your pancreas. Another misnomer, is calling it juvenile diabetes. You don’t outgrow it. That’s why we always choose to call it insulin dependent or Type 1 Diabetes.
Having an illness this severe has, in many ways, made Daniel an old sort of soul. He has to deal with things that other children don’t. I remember once when a friend of ours died, I was really, really crying. He came and sat down next to me and said, ‘You know Momma, everyone has something in this life. I just got mine early.’ We were watching Extreme Home Makeover when he was 6 or 7, and there was a child with an illness that wasn’t doing well at all. Again, wise beyond his years he said,’ Oh, mama, when he gets to heaven, he will have a new body just like I will and be perfect!’
One thing he, along with Peter and I, had always hoped for was a sibling. That dream came true a little over a year ago!
Once again, we were blessed to be parents! Benjamin’s adoption was very, very different.
It was open, his birth mom came to the house and interviewed us. At the time, she still hadn’t decided whether or not to place with us. Peter welcomed her in, asked if he could pray with her and us, and at that time expressed that he wanted what was best for this baby and family. This young lady was from a very moral, upstanding family and they were all embarrassed. Peter’s prayer and lack of wanting to just serve himself clinched the deal! I was kind of like the “cool aunt”, but Kelly loved Peter! The parents would come and have game nights with us, she chose to decorate the nursery with me, and yes, I was fine with it all! I was just so very grateful for the opportunity to parent once again! These two birth parents were seniors in high school.
We have since done panel work with Kelly regarding open adoption. Daniel was a part of this process as well. There were 12 couples present and we spent 3 hours counseling them. Don’t be frightened of open adoption! I want to reward people for choosing life, for being brave and making a very tough decision. I want to affirm them. They realize that they’ve already made a poor decision! I want to speak and model life from a loving God! Couples ask about discussing these consequences with other siblings already in the family. Daniel asked to answer this question! He was 9, and I thought that this would be interesting! He said, ‘Well I would say, only tell the other children what they can handle for their age!’ Daniel still asks us things. One question is, ‘Why don’t my birth parents come around?’ We have simply said, ‘That’s not how it was set up.’ I think it is so important to not appear as if you’re hiding something. It just isn’t in our DNA to have family secrets. We’ve shared what we’ve needed to at the moment, and plan to always affirm that the boy’s mothers were lovely girls who got into trouble and wanted what was best for them. In wanting the best, they decided to place them in a family. We impress for our kids that here was a plan, and the plan was to be with us eventually! Kelly’s family is very much in our lives. Benjamin’s grandmother comes and visits. She is nearly my age, so we have become friends. She is gracious and warm, and her children call me aunt. The key is respecting one another and having healthy boundaries on all sides. We do!
When Kelly made the decision to give us Ben, she asked Daniel if he was ready to be a sibling. He replied so sincerely, ‘Oh Miss Kelly, I have wanted to be a sibling ever since I found out what the word meant!’
Kelly has gone on with her life and is doing so well at university. We were talking and she said one of the most exciting things was the day Ben was born. She said, ‘I was waiting for Suzanne to come so I could present her son to her.’
I wasn’t able to actually be there for the birth. Kelly ended up having an emergency C-section. The neatest, neatest thing was that we were all there later together as a family!
We went home that evening, in order to respect their last night together. That was hard, but so very necessary. The next morning at 9:00, Kelly called and asked me to come to the hospital and have a sleepover with she and Ben! Man, I was there! I went back to that hospital armed with hip magazines and an itinerary of fun planned…but we actually just visited, loved each other, and discussed the plan for loving this baby! Kelly definitely sees Benjamin as ours but loves him like a nephew.
That family is so very sweet and loving and such a wonderful group of people!
I do want people to see that I’m a huge advocate for education here. It just looks so very different in my life. This is very interesting to me. I think my teaching skills have drawn me to do pro bono things. For example, Adoption Panels and Type 1 Diabetes. Daniel attends public school in a great district here in Illinois. He had a bus driver who wrote him up for cheeky and drunken behavior on the bus. Daniel is a normal child like every other, but he’s not cheeky! When his blood sugar was tested, it was 54!
I now feel so fortunate to have my educational background. I have gone in and written a seminar that I give at the beginning of each school year for teachers, parents, administrators, health care professionals at the district level, and even the guys operating the bus barns! I have handouts that teach them how to read highs and lows, and how to troubleshoot and recognize abnormal behavior. I have taught spontaneous eating, which isn’t concerned with policies, but rather necessary health for diabetics. We had well meaning substitutes that were rewarding 45 pound kids with Jolly Ranchers! If this involved a diabetic child….are you kidding me?!
Because I am an older parent, I think that my age and position have allowed me to be less reactionary, so I am able to help and set up these protocols. When kids within our district are diagnosed, our number is on file so that if those people need help, support and a listening ear, we’re there for them!”
For the past couple of years, this has not been an easy endeavor. With downsizing, Peter was in a position to take a job in a neighboring state and commute home on the weekends. While the more silent partner for this interview, he wishes to be known as a husband, a father, and a commercial banker. In that order.
It is my hope that in their time here, you have come to see them as individuals doing the extraordinary with ordinary means.
Just like so many other truly exceptional leaders.
“Home Education is any educational pursuit that is grounded in the family’s values, directed by the student, and supported by the parents. Home Education can take any form.”~ Dr. Shanon Brooks