FLASHBACK FRIDAY – From June 2008
The Steele family of Richmond, Indiana, knows better than most just how full of God’s love and promise the Easter season can be. Their reminder didn’t appear in an Easter basket, though. It came in the form of twins! Rachel Steele, this month’s Child of HoPE, and her twin brother, Nathan, were born on Good Friday in 2002 to parents Brian and Roxanne.
The Steeles and their two oldest daughters, Mariah and Sara, were awaiting the twins’ arrival with eager anticipation even though the family had been told that Rachel was not growing in the womb at the same rate as Nathan. However, no doctor or ultrasound had revealed that Rachel would be born with Holoprosencephaly. Only after Rachel was born with a cleft lip and palate would the Steele’s race for more information begin.
Three days after the delivery, Rachel had a grand mal seizure and was transported to the neonatal intensive care unit at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Brian went with her, leaving behind his wife and newborn son who remained in the hospital in Richmond.
Initial visits with the NICU doctors were difficult for Brian. He was told that his daughter was not well and that she would likely not live longer than six to eight months. Rachel’s doctors were adamant that no medical equipment or treatment would be able to prevent her passing. Relaying this life changing information to his wife over the telephone was especially challenging. During these first few difficult weeks, however, God provided for each need the Steele family had through friends, family members, and coworkers.
Though doctors offered a grim picture of Rachel’s reality, God has painted a beautiful masterpiece through her life. Six years later, Rachel enjoys a rich life with her family. As her big sister, Mariah, has learned, “having my sister Rachel has helped our family meet people and do things that we otherwise would not have done.” Twin brother, Nathan, lovingly explains his sister’s special needs to his friends and enjoys the ice cream treats he receives when he accompanies Rachel to the hospital. Sara Steele, Rachel’s ten-year-old sister, is proud to call Rachel her sister and expresses her love simply. “I like it when she smiles at me. Sometimes I worry when she is sick and I don’t like to hear her cry. I like to sit on the couch and just hold Rachel sometimes. I want everyone to know that I love her and even though she can’t talk or tell me in words, I know she loves me, too!”
The Steele family’s definition of love will not likely be found in any dictionary but Rachel’s love is a gift that no medical diagnosis can ever take away. “There are so many ways that Rachel has helped us to see love and hope in life,” Roxanne said. “Even though HPE is a devastating diagnosis, every child can bring love and hope to the lives of many…we just have to open our eyes to see it.”