Today, November 18th, 2011 is a very special day for my family - it's the day we 'officially' welcomed our newest addition (Rachel Elizabeth Martin) into our lives! Her adoption was finalized today, and it marks the culmination of one journey, and the beginning of a bigger one. Our family is incredibly lucky to have 'one in college (my son Mathew), and one in diapers.' :)
So, readers of this blog might now be wondering 'Ok Guy, where's the technology and community in this news?' Of course, you knew I was going to tell you, right? :) Simply put, technology helped save my daughter's life when she was just 9 days old, and it was also at the heart of our journey to her. As far as community goes, well, that was what helped her get through her first month of life in a NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit), and it also helped my wife and me navigate the sometimes maddening road to adoption.
Let's start with the technology and community that helped Rachel survive and thrive despite early challenges in her life. If you've never been in a NICU at a major hospital before, it can be a bit daunting. Depending on the individual child's situation, they can possibly be hooked up to a dizzying array of machines that breathe for them, pump blood, or just monitor their vital signs - and that's just the beginning. Rachel faced early challenges in her life that caused her lungs to have trouble developing, and the various breathing systems she was on, as well as deep intravenous lines, are what kept her body going as it healed itself.
However, these miracles of technology were only half of the story. Rachel was lucky enough to have incredible doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other specialists who came together with each other (and our family) to help chart the best course for Rachel's recovery. This was a powerful reminder to me that technology is only ever one half of the equation. Technology without a human element to direct it, guide it, and use it judiciously, is no more useful than a blunt cutting tool. The community of experts who attended Rachel went beyond just applying the technology of medicine - they were there for us during what seemed like an interminable amount of time in the hospital, patiently answering our questions, and making us feel like part of Rachel's community, long before a court order recognized us as her parents.
As prospective adoptive parents, we relied heavily on a network of our friends, family, co-workers, social workers, church family and others. In today's age, it goes without saying that technology played a huge role in helping us communicate and share information with that network. This ran the gamut from simple things (email) to technology that wasn't even envisioned when I was growing up (Facebook, et al.). However, the heart of all of this was community - people who came alongside us through various means to help us navigate what can be a daunting and sometimes disheartening process.
Today, on this very special occasion, I'm reminded again that the human/community element of our lives is the most important aspect of our existence. Technology is a wonderful enabler to augment the human condition, but it cannot bring about the kinds of blessings we've experienced as a family without people joining together in community. My fervent hope and prayer for my daughter is that she'll take that lesson to heart when she grows up and says; 'Oh Daddy, it was so quaint when you used to post about me on Facebook!' :)