To see life-long damage done to a child in just a few minutes by someone who is supposed to love and protect is enough to make any feeling person angry. But anger is not the point of this documentary titled Matthew in the Middle. The point is that a loving adoptive family can make all the difference in the life of a child who is determined to beat the odds.
Matthew Knox suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was just an infant. Contrary to his birth parents’ unlikely explanation that he rolled himself off the bed, all indications pointed to a case of violent shaking or blunt trauma. Matthew’s outlook was bleak. His adoptive mother’s outlook was not.
Throughout the video, the main thing that stood out to me was how Matthew was surrounded by loving parents, siblings, teachers, and therapists who refused to put limits on him. Instead of being bound to the doctor’s original prognosis that Matthew would likely be blind and unable to walk or talk, the people in Matthew’s life decided to treat him like any other child and just watch what he could do.
Matthew’s parents, Reina and Michael Knox, have grown children in addition to the three young children they adopted through foster care. When Reina talks about her family, her obvious joy and thankfulness is contagious. Her children fill her with life. Reina mentions that she can’t understand when other people say that they could never do what she did. She poses this question: If someone brought a child to you and asked if you would care for him, could you say, “No. I can’t do that?”
“It’s not a burden. It’s a privilege,” she says about raising her children.
They still have difficulties and uncertain days ahead, but don’t we all? Matthew has come so far already that only God knows what the future holds.
This video spoke to me as an adoptive parent of a child who also suffered hardship under the care of his biological mother. Our son’s story is very different from Matthew’s (in fact, we don’t know our son’s entire story) but the hardship of it is universal. We are still in the season of not knowing what damage has been done and therefore not knowing what the future will hold, but the joy that our son brings to our lives is worth the uncertainty.
Like Matthew’s family, we are taking life one day at a time and learning what he can do. Instead of focusing on the ways he is behind other children his age, we choose to focus on his progress. He is expected to catch up eventually, and I love watching him succeed at new things. My job is to help him reach his full potential, not stress about how long it might take to get there.
Ultimately, Matthew’s story is one of hope.
Hope that children with traumatic brain injuries can defy the odds.
Hope that God will find the perfect family for every child who needs a home.
Hope that God will sustain us as we follow His leading.
Matthew in the Middle is a joy to watch. I would love to hear your thoughts about his story.