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At first glance you’d think Kristin Jarvis Adams was your typical Eastside mom with two kids, a lovely home with a proverbial white picket fence, and a side business. That is what you may think but you’d be wrong.
Adams and her family survived one of the most gut wrenching and emotional ordeals over a 10-year period and luckily for all those who follow, she’s written a book to tell her story.
The book, “The Chicken Who Saved Us: The Remarkable Story of Andrew and Frightful”, is receiving rave reviews from parents and doctors alike. After reading it myself, I can only join in the accolades.
Adams grew up on the Eastside and attended Woodinville High School in the 80’s. She attended the University of Washington and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. She married her high school sweetheart, Jon Adams, in 1990 and they started their family. Andrew was first then three years later Hannah joined the family.
“Andrew is autistic and didn’t utter a word until he was four,” according to Adams. From there he spoke in riddles and the family was always struggling to decode his language. When Andrew was 8 years old and Hannah was 5, the family went to DeYoung’s Feed Store for the annual Chick Fest. Andrew discovered a bin of baby chickens on the far side of the room. They were Araucana hens and Tony the store clerk told him that they lay beautiful blue eggs.
A few minutes later, Andrew approached his parents gently cupping a splotchy brown and black chick in his hands and announced, “She is my new friend. I’d like to bring her home with me.” Adams said that she was astonished he had spoken so clearly. That sentence along with the children’s pleas were all they needed and next thing you know they are heading home with six chicks and all the items needed to raise them.
Andrew told his parents her name was Frightful. When asked why he called her Frightful he replied, “Because she told me that was her name.” When pressed he added “She will be brave for me. Frightful will save me.”
Frightful was not only Andrew’s best friend but his confident as well with him admitting to her one summer afternoon “I think my body is trying to kill me.”
Adams admitted, “Andrew was sick pretty much his entire childhood. It became critical when he was 16 years old.”
In and out of doctor’s offices, hospital emergency rooms, then eventually moving into to the hospital at 16 years old, Andrew was in constant excruciating pain. When he was finally diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, the doctors were then baffled as to how to cure him or at least help lesson the pain.
Hannah adored her brother and throughout it all stayed strong and seemed to understand her role in the family, eventually saving Andrew’s life.
Frightful of course couldn’t visit at the hospital but stayed ever vigilant to her best friend at home on her perch by the window and via technology at the hospital.
Adams and her husband did what they could to save their son and keep their heads above water for what seemed like eternity. They are forever grateful for friends and family that stepped in and up so that they could focus on Andrew.
While reading her story, there were moments where I laughed out loud and other moments where I quietly sobbed. Adams captured the truism to dealing with a child’s life-threatening illness within a family unit and at the hospital surrounded by other parents and caregivers. “There is a whole world going on inside these [hospital] walls,” she said.
When asked why she decided to relive the ordeal and tell her story she said, “I felt the need and wanted people to know that you are not alone.” I am confident that anyone who is a parent or caregiver would benefit by reading her book.
Adams admits that many people have reached out with thanks and the book has touched people in different ways. One man wrote to her and said, “Oh my God you absolutely changed how I looked at my family’s situation.” Adams said, “He was the Hannah in the story.”
Frightful lived to the ripe old age of 10…just long enough to see her friend Andrew come home from the hospital. Adams said that the phrase “Chick, chick, chickadee” became one that she knows had a bit of magic in it. Andrew would likely say to this day “Frightful saved my life.”
Andrew is now 25 years old and doing well. He was able to graduate from high school and worked for the past three years as a prep chef. He is now thinking of his next step and as a family they are feeling things through and trying things on for size.
I asked Adams her advice for other parents faced with a life threatening illness. She said “As a mama bear you protect your young over anything. That was the biggest thing for many years for my husband and I. When the illness blossomed like a mushroom cloud, it took over our lives. We tried to suck it up. Eventually I just called the church and asked for help.” The church responded by offering support to the family in every way possible. When Adams first shared her story, the pastor said, “We’ve got this and we’ll hold the story for you.” From there she learned it is so important to share/tell your story so others can “hold it” for you. Be connected to community…they can help.
“The Chicken Who Saved Us: The Remarkable Story of Andrew and Frightful” has won the Gold IPPY Award. It is available wherever books are sold and at the Woodinville Barnes and Noble.