After hearing the shaken baby syndrome story of 2-month-old Easton, LeAnne and Eric Stadler realized God had put them in his life for a reason.
When LeAnne and Eric Stadler married in 1996, they thought they had things all figured out. They planned on having two kids and living happily ever after as a family of four.
But God had much bigger plans for them!
God, indeed, blessed LeAnne and Eric with two kids — one boy and one girl. And life was good. But after a few years, God laid it on Eric’s heart to have more kids.
Another son and daughter later, the Stadler’s again thought their family was complete. But another prompting from the Holy Spirit would change things, yet again, laying the groundwork for a happy ending to a tragic shaken baby syndrome story!
Shaken Baby Syndrome Story Touches Hearts
The Stadler family ended up trading their home in the suburbs for a smaller home in the country where there would be more room outdoors for their kids to play. And that’s when God again impressed upon LeAnne and Eric Stadler that their family wasn’t complete.
While growing up, LeAnne’s parents had fostered children. Now, LeAnne and Eric found themselves longing to do the same.
The desire only deepened after discovering how the system was overloaded with more kids than homes. After much prayer and consideration, the couple decided to become foster parents.
Over the next few years, they had many foster placements. They built strong relationships with the caseworkers and supervisors at Children Services and were considered “seasoned foster parents.”
All of this was God preparing them for their future encounter with a heartbreaking shaken baby syndrome story.
One day, CPS called LeAnne and Eric Stadler about a 2-month-old baby boy named Easton who desperately needed a home. The couple immediately agreed to foster him. But seeing the child’s condition was jarring.
"I had never seen anything like him. He was blue! His skin showed all the little veins that ran through his body,” LeAnne recalled. “He was so pitiful. He was tiny, frail, motionless, and he honestly resembled an alien. I know it sounds awful, but it was the only way to describe it.”
They didn’t know it yet, but Easton’s “failure to thrive” was from the effects of shaken baby syndrome. He was in such rough shape, LeAnne remembers feeling scared to hold him.
“But the moment I did, I knew Eric and I were going to fight with everything we had to keep him safe,” she says.
Getting To The Truth
When CPS initially removed Easton from his home, they’d found him sleeping in soiled clothes, unfed and starving. At first, the medical team diagnosed him as "Non-Organic Failure to Thrive" (NOFTT), meaning there was no medical reason keeping him from gaining weight.
But later, they would learn the damage this poor boy suffered under the care of his biological parents was far worse.
Further investigation into the boy’s condition led to an MRI reporting non-accidental head trauma. This meant Easton was suffering from the effects of shaken baby syndrome.
With the mounting evidence, his father finally confessed to shaking Easton one day while he was crying, then throwing him onto the couch. The poor child, who’d been crying because he was hungry, then rolled onto the floor, which caused a seizure.
Hearing Easton’s shaken baby syndrome story was heartbreaking. But this is the reason God had brought him to LeAnne and Eric Stadler.
When they first brought Easton home, LeAnne said he was “like a rag doll” and his “eyes seemed void.”
“That sweet baby boy had given up,” she said, “but we were not giving up on him.”
The Stadler family poured themselves into Easton’s rehabilitation. And it made all the difference.
Easton’s shaken baby syndrome story could have easily remained tragic. He’d been “sentenced to a life of disabilities” by his biological parents. But God surrounded LeAnne and Eric with a team of specialists dedicated to helping the baby boy overcome as much as possible.
Happy Ending To Shaken Baby Syndrome Story
Now, in a loving home dedicated to his well-being, Easton improved. He gained weight, started physical and speech therapy, and persevered. He even started learning to walk with a brace by age two.
Even with some additional diagnoses, Easton has exceeded expectations. And each day, he fights to keep overcoming the obstacles before him.
"He isn't able to keep up with kids his own age, but he is happy!" LeAnne says. "He doesn't see his differences and he does not let them stop him."
During this time, LeAnne and Eric knew their home was meant to be where Easton stayed. And after “lots of testimony, lots of tears, lots of prayers, and lots of hard work”, the courts finally allowed Easton a permanent placement.
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Just before Thanksgiving and Easton’s 3rd birthday, LeAnne and Eric Stadler adopted him into their family forever!
“He became Easton Matthew Stadler, our 5th child. A child who God knew we needed!” LeAnne explained. “Many people say he is blessed to have us, but we disagree. We are so blessed to have him.”
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What a beautiful story of how God can turn broken things into something beautiful. He transformed a heartbreaking shaken baby story into one of perseverance, unconditional love, and restoration!
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20
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h/t & Featured Image: Love What Matters