Lacey Buchanan believes she and her husband Chris have a “pretty unique” story to tell, and she’s absolutely right about that. After all, the young couple faced some tough and life-changing challenges after their son Christian was born with an extremely rare birth defect — so rare, in fact, that only 50 identical cases reportedly exist in the world today.
After going public with the story, responses have been overwhelmingly positive – but there have been some shocking detractors, including those who called Lacey “selfish” and “pathetic” for not sparing Christian a “miserable” life.
Christian was born with Tessier cleft lip and palate, a birth defect in which a baby’s skull — particularly the upper lip and roof of the mouth — do not properly come together or close. Plus, he was born without eyes.
Buchanan, 29, is set to describe her family’s intensely personal journey navigating Christian’s struggles in her new book, “Through the Eyes of Hope,” which releases on Jan. 10. It’s a book the loving mother hopes will help others who face similar struggles, as she said she sees it as another avenue through which to spread awareness about her family’s story.
“Writing the book just felt like a step forward in that process,” Buchanan recently told Faithwire, describing how she has already openly shared Christian’s story via social media, believing she has some powerful lessons to share about “how God has used (her) circumstances to do something pretty amazing.”
It’s been a long and difficult journey since Christian — who is now 5 years old — was born blind, with Buchanan recounting her initial reaction when she first learned of her son’s disabilities. She initially received part of the diagnosis while pregnant at her 18-week anatomy scan, but had no idea the extent of his disabilities, nor did she know he would be blind.
“I really think the word would be grief. We had to go through a process of mourning,” she said. “We did lose something…we lost a child with vision, and so we had to go through the process of mourning that and coming to terms with that.”
Buchanan said everyone’s process is different, but that for her and Chris honesty about their grief was key, even amid some peoples’ failures to understand what the couple were truly going through.
“I think a lot of times people didn’t understand it, because Christian was alive,” she said of her grief. “(But) grief happens when there’s a loss.”
Buchanan said the couple took things day-by-day and hour-by-hour as they dealt with their new reality, as well as the accommodations their new baby would need. She said she naturally experienced anger and frustration over what was unfolding, as she struggled to understand it – all part of her grieving process.
“I had been a Christian for years by the time I had a child,” Buchanan said, noting, though, that the ordeal had a profound impact on her faith. “We had to really learn who (God) was. My circumstances aren’t what I want them to be, but that doesn’t change anything about the characteristics of God.”
Watch a video below that Buchanan uploaded to YouTube in 2012. The clip, which has gained over 1 million views, tells the family’s story, and has a description that reads, “This is my plea to anyone considering abortion. Rethink your decision, no matter the circumstances. I am so glad I chose life!”
With time and ceaseless faith, the family overcame these emotional obstacles.
“We kept our eyes on God and kept our attention on the things that were good,” she said, noting that the couple’s perspective eventually changed. “The joy just kind of became a habit for us over time.”
Of course, the journey forward has still come with its struggles.
One particular low point came when someone critiqued Buchanan on social media, penning a statement that truly stunned her. The individual commented on a photo, writing, “You are selfish for letting him live just so you could have a baby. You are a pathetic excuse for a mother. He will have a miserable life.”
When Buchanan was asked how she reacted to that post, she said it wasn’t hurtful as much as it was shocking.
“I was shocked that there were people who literally thought that Christian should not live,” she said. “It never crossed my mind … it was not something that had ever come up.”
But Buchanan didn’t let that dissuade her from caring for and loving her child. Five years after Christian’s birth, Buchanan said her son is thriving and living a life much like any other 5-year-old child; he plays karate, goes to church and does the “normal, average day to day stuff.”
Despite the challenges, Buchanan said she’s learned many lessons along the way. Among other lessons, she and her husband Chris learned how important it is to communicate, as they initially struggled to do so.
“That’s been a big one for us … be open and honest,” Buchanan said. “And then another big one we’ve learned is definitely to put God first and to cling to him; he really is our hope. There’s no way we would have made it through any of that stuff without him.”
And that’s not all. Buchanan said she’s also learned that God might actually be giving people a gift, even if they don’t realize it in the moment — and even if that gift seems shrouded in difficulty.
“Sometimes God might give us a gift and we dismiss it. I really learned to treasure the gifts no matter what the wrapping paper looks like,” Buchanan said. “I never would have realized I was getting a gift, but I was. Nobody wants to hurt and feel pain, but man what a gift it has been, even with the pain. He’s worth it and we don’t regret a thing.”
As for her new book, “Through the Eyes of Hope,” Buchanan is hoping people can learn from her hardships and see how the family has persevered, and how God can love and sustain people through their storms.
“He doesn’t leave us where we are. He is there,” she said. “He is with us. He is in our midst and he is love.”
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