Special Needs: Love and Family
I remember so vividly the days of paper-chasing. Amongst the many piles, one paper stood out… the “special needs” paper requesting that we make a selection of those special needs that were acceptable to us. My husband and I agonized over that paper. We spent many hours, over several days, tearfully discussing and praying over what we could handle taking into consideration that we already had three very rambunctious boys. After all, we had always left that in God’s hands. Who were we to make those decisions? How could we ever make them?
In November 2005, our paper-chase was complete, and our dossier was logged in. After prayerfully considering those special needs, we had made the decision to go the “traditional” route for a “healthy” little girl. We thought it would be the best decision for our family. We felt like we would not be equipped to handle any extra care that might be required for a special needs child. However, what we thought and what we felt were of little importance when God was calling. As the wait for adopting “healthy” children began to increase, we began to feel God tugging at our hearts and moving us in a different direction. January 2006 would bring news of a waiting 16mth old little girl through our agency’s waiting child newsletter. Our hearts were captured from the moment we read the words in that email, and we knew that this was our little girl, our Mia. We were blessed beyond measure to be accepted as this treasures’ forever family. Yes, God had indeed turned us in the direction of special needs!
God would lead us to adopt 4 special needs children over the next 5 years. Each of our children is distinctly unique and amazingly wonderful! Two of our children were born with varying degrees of cleft lip/palate. Although, CL/CP is not an “easy” special need, it is a very manageable one. Managing this special need requires a devotion of time and energy. It is an ongoing process that requires many years of attention including speech theraphy, surgical procedures and working with a team of doctors for the continued care of the child. We are so thankful for all the resources available to us and to a very talented and devoted CP/CL team. One of our children, adopted as an older child, came to us with many special needs. Some were diagnosed at the time of adoption, and some have been discovered over time. The needs that we knew about included Hepatitis B, Microtia /Atresia and hearing loss in one ear. Despite the fact that Hepatitis B sounds intimidating, it is a very workable disease within the modern parameters of western medicine. Dealing with this special need requires trips to a hepatologist and keeping the health of the child in focus. Dealing with Microtia, Atresia and hearing loss are only slightly more of a complication. Since our child was born with a malformed ear, with little to no hearing in that ear, she had learned to listen and hear with only one ear. After consulting with a specialist, the decision was made to surgically form and give her a non-working ear. This constructive surgery required 4 different surgeries spanning over one year. The benefit of this type of surgery was two-fold for our daughter. In addition to giving her self-esteem a boost, a constructed ear would give an avenue for future hearing if necessary. We have since dealt with many other special needs for this child including myoclonic epileptic seizures, facial asymmetry/ palsy, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. Each of these special needs requires medical attention. In addition, RAD requires lots of work and determination. Our youngest came to us with the diagnosis of malnutrition and developmental delays. The papers we received were a bit vague about a true diagnosis, and this child has been thriving within the loving arms of our family. Depending on the severity of this special need, it requires medical attention, additional nutrition and lots of special care and love. Yet, none of these special needs (or any others for that matter) prevents children from needing the love of a forever family, nor should it. Really, the only special need these children have is the need for a family! As we go about our everyday lives we often forget that our children have special needs. Sometimes this repression is because we are so busy with the sheer number of our children but in large part because we choose to forget. We have always looked upon their needs as gifts from God…the things that make them who they are to be. In fact, these special needs are so much a part of whom they are that we forget that there are any differences.
Many times I look at my children and think how very blessed I am. I think of all the joy that my children bring to me, and I think “Look what we would have missed if we had not followed God’s direction to these beautiful, loving, joyful children!” We look at each of our children and see the beauty and love of God in each one. I often pause thinking about the special treasures that all of my children are to my husband and I, and I am overwhelmed with God’s mercy, grace and love for each of us. I praise him for continuing to love me, and for continuing to grow my love for my children. My husband and I cannot imagine life without each one of our children, whether by birth or through the beauty of adoption. Special needs adoption is most assuredly a demanding and challenging quest, but Oh my! The joy is unequivocally in the journey!
Bio: I am a wife, mother and a self-proclaimed Jesus freak. My husband and I have been happily married for almost twenty years. We are the parents of 7 children... three boys by birth, two girls and two boys through the beauty of adoption. We are enjoying the 10th year of our homeschooling adventure. It is through the love of Jesus that I am so blessed…blessed beyond my wildest dreams!