In September 2014, Katie and John Butler learned that they were pregnant with their first child together.
Their baby boy, who had already been named Dewey, was due the following summer. But at 20 weeks along, the couple received devastating news.
Doctors told them the baby’s neck was thickening and he had club feet, indicating multiple genetic conditions.
But from there, the news only continued to get worse. Weekly ultrasounds concluded that his hands were often clenched and it was difficult to find a heartbeat.
“But they had no idea of the prognosis. They just knew he would be a special baby,” Katie said.
At 39 weeks, doctors induced Katie and baby Dewey came into the world. But he was born with clubbed feet, a webbed neck, and the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck multiple times.
The baby was immediately taken to the NICU for care. He was first diagnosed with diabetes, but within weeks more findings made him increasingly unstable.
“At one point, he didn’t need any air, and then all of a sudden, his trachea collapsed,” Katie said.
“He got a tracheostomy, he was on a ventilator, and we were working toward the goal of getting him a G-tube. At that point, he could go home. We prayed for it, but it seemed like one thing after another.”
After 132 days in the hospital, he went into the operating room for a routine procedure. But while on the operating table, his heart had gone into abnormal rhythm and Dewey didn’t survive.
Katie and John couldn’t face the devastating news alone, and turned to God to help them through the difficult time.
They began to consider adoption after they were told any future biological children could be at risk of the same genetic conditions.
“In November, it was a Wednesday, I really poured out my heart to God, crying, that I needed another baby,” Katie said. “We had so much love and poured it into Dewey and now he was in heaven … I needed more kids to love.”
The very next day, the couple received a call from a nurse at the hospital. A baby had been left at the hospital and needed a home.
Like Dewey, this baby had a variety of health problems. His family decided to put him up for adoption as they were unable to provide him with the care he deserved.
He was on a ventilator like Dewey, but his lungs continued to improve. And the Butlers knew they wanted to care for him.
“Right away I knew it was an answer to a prayer,” Katie said. “This baby needed a home, needed a family.”
The couple fostered and later adopted the boy, who they named Braxtel. He continues to need a breathing tube to get enough oxygen and communicates through sign language, but he is a fighter.
“Braxtel is the most determined kid you will meet – he has to be to survive!” Josh said. “And he wakes up every day so joyful to be alive. He makes us laugh. He keeps us on our toes!”
“Caring for Brax has not in any way replaced our loss of Dewey,” Josh added. “Rather, Braxtel has given us a reason to keep fighting and to keep loving.”
Everyone goes through tough circumstances,” Katie said, “but God is the constant — he’s in control. I’ve learned so much.
“It’s scary and can be strange bringing a stranger’s kid into your life, but they need love. Brax has brought us so much happiness, it’s unbelievable.”
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