Trials are not enemies of faith but are opportunities to prove
God's faithfulness. -- Author Unknown

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one
to say 'thank you?' -- William A. Ward

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Special Needs Parenting

I love advocating for special needs adoption. I really do.
I don't think people are willing to open their minds enough with pre-adoption checklists. It seems so abstract. If you give birth to a child, they ask you for a list of conditions you could handle. You figure it out when God hands it to you.
I'm not downing anyone for not accepting a diagnosis though. We've been there. We have changed our mind on a couple of the no's we started with and can't take some of the things we really could have dealt with early on because of our children in the house now. Frankly, I wouldn't have at least one of my kids if someone else had said yes. I'm happy they did. I got a son.
Special needs parenting isn't easy. It's stressful. Its tiring. And it's very lonely. That's the hardest.
It's lonely.
You see. We have days that are completely taken up by doctor's appointments. We have afternoons that are taken up at the therapists office. We have weeks, maybe months that are spent isolated to some degree because someone had surgery and needs to recover. Some weeks its hard to find time to connect with other people. That gets lonely.
The delays.
Our kids are delayed. They spent 2 and 3 1/2 years in an orphanage. They didn't get one to one time. They didn't get parents. They got their crib. No one read stories to them at bedtime. They have mobility problems that are compounded by their early years. They can't just run and play with their peers. What 5 year old will sit still at the park?
The conspicuous-ness.
It only takes a second to realize our kids have medical conditions. I mean crossed eyes, stiff muscle tone, not talking, and of course the throwing up (which I'm sure are actually seizures). We get looks. I hate when people ask Ananya what her name is. She can't reply in a way that they understand. They walk away seeing my daughter as something other than she is. The worst part is that she knows. She won't talk to other people the way she talks at home. She seals up like a clam in public. Even with the therapists that have worked with her for several years. The therapists are just now starting to see what Ananya can do. She still surprises Patrick and I from time to time.
With our third adoption, people (even family) like to ask us if "there is anything wrong with this one?"
A: "this one" is my child, my daughter. She is perfect. She has a name. Varsha. We love her dearly, so please stop talking now.
B: There is nothing wrong with my other kids. Your high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity aren't seen as "wrong". Please don't degrade my children. That's rude.
We don't have alot of play dates. My kids don't get invited to many birthday parties. People I work with have kids that are my kids age. They get together. We are never invited. We mostly get seen as "that family" then "bless their heart" is thrown in there.
I don't mean to push people away from special needs adoption. Lots of kids with special needs lead completely normal lives. Mostly you would never know. My kids have a higher level need. But kids like mine are the most in danger. In some orphanages, these are the kids that are left in dying rooms. These are the kids that are put into state care (in countries that don't have established social systems like the US). These kids are the ones that even in the US have to live in group homes or medical centers. These kids take time. They HAVE to have a parent who will fight for them.
Most of all these kids need families to love them. Unconditionally. Forever. That gives them a future. It gives them a chance.
I know some people (more than I care to admit) would see my kids as the leftovers. The kids that are left once all the other referrals have been given out. They are so precious to us. They are our first choice. They are our inspiration.
No one will ever know how happy I was the first time Ananya said "I love you". She had been home for 3 years. She had shown me in every way she could. We finally got her medicine dose adjusted. She could finally chew her food. More sounds were coming out. Then she said it, I melted. How could I not? I knew how much work that she put into those 3 words. I had struggled right along with her.
No one will ever know the joy I get watching Prasun walk in circles in the driveway. 3 years ago, he was an orphan. It was highly unlikely he would ever get out of an orphanage. He couldn't take care of himself. Now he has a home. He has a family. He is still learning all these skills he needs to become independent. He has only been free for 2 1/2 years. We still have a long way to go.
I can't imagine not having life the way it is today. I just hope seeing our family will make more families consider special needs adoption.


Arnold family said...

We have had that exact question about our Ghana adoption, "Is there anything wrong with her?" The other good one, "You can't save them all."I know that I can't, but when God prompts me to go I have to be obedient. I am so thankful you are adopting Varsha, I watched her picture and prayed for a family for her. She and Sneha waited too long.

Cristy said...

You are so encouraging! You inspire me. My is son Brody was a preemie born three months early. It has taken a few years to catch him up to kids his age. We are currently on the waiting list for an India baby. We get comments like "your life is just starting to get "normal" why would you want to adopt?" Well, because there is another baby like Brody in the world who needs love and family. Children can't help the way they were born, but we can give them the help and love they need.

Megan A said...

I love you!!! that's all!

Peter and Nancy said...

Amanda, your words have brought me to tears. In this life, people rarely see each other the way God sees each of us -- made in His image, and infinitely valuable because of that. I love the way you're living out your calling in the midst of the hard work it takes. And I know your kids are worth it.

Alice said...

I am so happy that Varsha has a family! I have been praying for her for years.