Special Needs Adoption

Before National Adoption Awareness Month slips away, I want to end this month’s blog with a few words on special needs adoptions (but I won’t stand on ceremony; you’ll hear more from me on this issue throughout the year). This is by FAR the number one question people ask me and it’s usually phrased like this, “Did you always want to adopt a child with disabilities?” I always TRY to answer the question in less words than ‘War And Peace”. But I probably fail most of the time because I want them to know that the miracle of Hayden’s birth is by FAR the best present God could have ever given me and it represents the miracle of my heart.

Like every other couple who has filled out pre-adoption paperwork (public, private, domestic or international), we had to fill out questionnaires that asked us specific questions about the type of child we were looking for: infant or child, boy or girl, race, etc……The age and gender questions are pretty straight forward and something you hash out with your spouse until you both are on the same page (hopefully). The race question was seriously a no-brainer for me; I could care less what color of skin the child had. I could care less what skin color ANYBODY has. It’s just skin!! The other questions regarding physical, emotional and mental disabilities are a little trickier. We were going to be brand new parents with this whole adoption thing and we didn’t want to mess up an innocent child so we played it safe and said “No” to things like mental retardation, wheelchairs, epileptic seizures, autism, heart conditions and things like that were better left to the “experts” (surely they only gave children wtih behavioral issues to licensed child psychologists I naively thought). We said “Maybe” to deafness or hard of hearing because that wasn’t nearly as scary to me. We were also highly perfectionistic control freaks (read, “We thought we knew more than God on pretty much every issue and if there was going to be a “problem” we wanted to be the ones to “fix” it) and were setting out to be “The Perfect Adoptive Parents”.

But A LOT happened between the time that we filled out that questionnaire and Hayden was born (find that story at the “The Day Hayden Was Born, I Mean Really Born” on this blog). God needed to do some MAJOR work in our lives. We needed to get off the throne (or at least acknowledge it might be too big for us). So God used some pretty dramatic and painful situations to let us come to the knowledge that ONLY God could make sense of our lives.

Most of the other things I would say about adopting and parenting a child with special needs have already been said by another mom, named Lauren, whose story I just read this morning for the first time. Please read it: http://www.laurencasper.com/2012/11/26/adopting-special-needs-lisa-leonard-giveaway/#comment-10046.

I especially love what she says about patience, something that I am learning at the cellular level everyday. I also liked how she opened her post with a disclaimer about not wanting to put off “anyone who doesn’t have adopting a child with special needs in their parameters” (rough paraphrase). Now that I’ve been a parent for awhile, I can’t imagine having”typical” kids because our days are so rich and our souls are deeper because we’ve learned what being fully human really means (not that we don’t have PLENTY of frustrating days. Believe me, we do!!), but I don’t want to be elitist. I do know that this path is NOT for everyone. Prayerfully consider what GOD would have for you (not your own hopes and dreams and fears, like we did). If you’re seriously considering adoption get rid of your own expectations as the guiding force. Dreams and expectations are great, as long as you leave all the wiggle room for God to put His plan in place.

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