Israel Walks!!

I've thought about giving a "special needs update" for a few months- but it has been so hard in the last couple of months. God has been so good to us - and Israel has made tremendous progress since we moved here. Last summer he learned to pull to stand. In November he started crawling. He has become stronger and stronger. A few months ago his teachers reported that they were no longer using his walker at school. They have been working on walking with one hand-support at school, and he was leaning back/ depending on his walker in a way that wasn't promoting independence. Just last March 2015 Israel was taking his first independent steps in the walker, and over a year later he's made so much progress!

Although the progress has been remarkable, it is long-suffering as well. There are weeks and months between these new spurts. There's sleeping issues and behavior issues and the general 4-year-oldness. It can be exhausting. Then there's kindergarten placements that require hours of phone calls, meetings, and research. I think I've thought "I don't know what I'm doing" as a parent more in the last year than ever. It can be overwhelming and heartbreaking and confusing.

On May 20th I had Israel's IEP meeting for kindergarten. We had several propositions and I was told that some of the things we suggested may not be given to us. If you've ever been in the parent position at an IEP meeting, I know you understand the mix of emotions. You have to be a strong advocate, but you're also hearing all of your child's weaknesses and challenges laid out. Hearing the results of his pre-k assessments was disheartening. I left the meeting not knowing what kind of plan he would have (we'd get the results in the mail) and just disappointed that Israel was so far behind intellectually.

On June 3, 2016 his therapist Chaya called me and told me that she had a video to send me from his therapy session that day. She texted me two videos of the OT and PT working with him. ISRAEL TOOK STEPS ON HIS OWN! I was walking out of a restaurant with my brother and sister-in-law and the videos came up on my phone and I honestly sobbed in the street right there. I texted them to Will and got on the train home, watching the videos repeatedly and just sobbing. I couldn't believe it.

That same afternoon I came home and got Israel's IEP in the mail. I was so pleased that Israel will be in a 12-1-3 class (twelve students, 1 main teacher, 3 assistant teachers) and he will have his own paraprofessional helping him. He will also get 4 PT, 4 OT and 4 ST sessions EACH WEEK! That is so much and I'm so thankful! It was a huge win. We're still waiting on his placement information.

All this to say... there are seasons of waiting, persevering, and hoping. Then there are seasons of receiving blessings and having a full heart because there is tangible evidence of God's faithfulness. Israel taking steps is so good for our hearts. These milestones that are so stretched-out seem to come at times when we really needed them. I didn't realize how much my soul would be lifted by this hope. I needed it. I needed the reminder that God is working in our boy. He has a plan, he is using Israel to show us what a miracle is. God is good to us in each season - the highs and the lows. Through the lows we realize how much we need grace and what a miracle the highs are.

Another thing that encouraged us through this weekend's celebration was how many people joined us in our joy. We know that people are genuinely excited with us and hoping for Israel's redemption with us. Thank you for your comments, messages and posts. We read every one and we appreciate our village of cheerleaders and prayer partners that join us in our hope and encourage us in perseverance. Thank you for holding our arms up when we are tired. Thank you for following our journey (many of you in the days before Israel Biruk was even in our home!). It is humbling and honoring that we have so many people believing and praying on behalf of our son in his cerebral palsy journey. These steps are a beginning of a long journey and we need your support! So thank you!


  1. I love that sweet boy!! Jeff and I both were clapping and loving his smile as we watched the videos in the park of him walking to you!! What a blessing to have been able to help care for him at church for 3 years!!

  2. Rebekah, I started following your blog after hearing from your sister Sarah that you were adopting from Ethiopia. I was going through the process at the same time. We have had our Macy Tadila for almost 5 years now and frequently check on you all. I am thrilled to hear about your little man walking! Makes my heart sing.
    Amy Harrington


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