Adopting a special needs child is a journey full of adventures, unknowns, ups and downs, frustrations, and great celebrations. Come to think of it, parenting in general is the same journey! My favorite response to people when they voice concerns about adopting because of the health adopted children is that there is no perfect person. All of us have imperfections and special needs. We envision a very healthy, attractive, and smart child whose personality meshes fluidly with ours. We can easily review medical information on a child and piously think that good old American food, medicine, and a loving family will ensure positive outcomes. Certainly that can and does happen. My Korean-born daughter was a thirty week, three pound preemie. We were aware that there could be some unknowns, in her future. She received excellent care before coming to us and for that we are so grateful. She is super healthy and smart! However, this does not always happen. Some children arrive with undiagnosed medical or developmental conditions. Our Korean-born son had minor medical conditions on his paperwork. After he had been with us for several months, we discovered more involved medical and developmental hurdles he must overcome. He is just as much a miracle to our family as our daughter. His life is always a struggle compared to other children his age. We have altered family plans and even our residence to ensure access to the best available resources. He has taught us that love doesn’t need words to be expressed, that we must be aware of the small things that cause some children great distress, and to celebrate every milestone he reaches, no matter how delayed they are. I’ve opened my eyes to all the awesome children in the world deserving families, but nobody wants to parent them because of special needs.
Now, off my soapbox and on to practical words. As a Christian, I believe that God leads us to the children he ordained for us to parent. We prayed for God to show us where to adopt from and what agency. After researching many agencies, word of mouth recommendations led us to Dillon International. Find an agency willing to answer all the technical questions before you get deep into the process. Talk to families who have used the agencies you are interested. When considering a waiting child, find a doctor willing to openly review and discuss the paperwork. Fax the info to Dr. Dana Johnston in Minnesota. His clinic is very experienced with international adoption. Remember, though, no matter what opinions the medical community gives you, the call of God to adopt a certain child is undeniable. Sometimes the reports we get from doctors is discouraging. God can work wonders to heal, supply grace, patience, and resources when He calls you to adopt a special needs child.
Just because a child has some challenges, that child is not defined by his/her circumstances. Special needs children are real, whole people who deserve to be loved and appreciated beyond the diagnosis.
This post was written by Libby S of Texas. She is wife to Mike and the mom to 3 wonderful children, Carter, Abby and Dillon. Thanks Libby for your input.