Advocacy

Is special needs adoption in your future? If not, why not?

Many people never thought they’d ever adopt. Many never even imagined they’d select a child with special needs. Yet, special needs adoption is becoming increasingly common. Although there will always be petty, angry, selfish, bitter little trolls making every possible effort to discredit those who open their homes to new young family members with special needs, the reality is that those who did it are the very best witnesses to the joy that special needs adoption brings into a family.

We all have heard the common and deeply true anonymous thought that says that “adopting one child won’t change the world; but for that child, the world will change.” Although too much bad publicity is made out of a couple of isolated cases of children with deeply rooted RAD behavioral patterns, in reality, almost every single child who doesn’t have a family desperately wants one. That is trie both for children with and without special needs. It is impossible to forget being in Haiti for the pick-up trip of two of my sons and having lots of small ones swarming around me like fragile little bees and asking me, “Are you my mom?” They would try to hold my hands, to make physical contact with me, to get to feel that they finally had a mom. But I was not there for all of them--just only for two.

Those who adopted from Eastern European countries may not have been through that experience. Is it because the children in the orphanages there do not want a mommy to take care of them? Not at all!!! It is only because the orphaned kids in those countries are allowed many fewer opportunities, if any, to interact with visitors. It is because of the language barrier. Children in Catholic and other faith-based orphanages in Haiti are frequently raised bilingual so as to make the transition easier once they get home--assuming that there will be a home for them. Children in Eastern European orphanages only speak their native language and therefore cannot communicate with visitors from foreign countries.

I'll be very honest in that no matter how much I'd like to be able to go through the listing of waiting children and advocate specifically for some of them, I simply cannot do it. I cannot go through that listing--not at this time. I desperately want to adopt again, and my family is totally, entirely, absolutely, unconditionally on board with me. Yet, if for whatever reason making that dream come true one more time does not seem so easy, going through any photolisting would be just torture--something I simply cannot do.

I cannot avoid being the possessive type. I cannot advocate for a child or children to whom I feel drawn for them to go to another home. I want those children in our home, to make them mine, to teach them my values, and to give them my family name.

Instead, I can very well give encouragement to anyone in need of a push in order to consider special needs and / or older child adoption. I can dissipate any concerns, and clear other people's hearts of any doubts, of any fears, of any "buts" that the devil may be throwing at them.

Dealing with children with special needs is
not that difficult--and is full of rewards. Is there a transitional time? Yes, there is--but for anything we undertake in life we know in advance that there will be something we need to give in exchange. We don't get major degrees from morning to night, but after many, many years of hard academic work. We don't get to live in a nice, spacious home in a desirable neighborhood without being ready to pay a high mortgage or a high rent for it. We don't succeed in anything without being through several failures, several rejections, several disappointments first. So, if we're ready to make efforts pursuant to prestige, recognition, and material comfort or wealth, aren't we ready to do the same for a child? In all likelihood, much less will be needed to save a child than to secure any of those other earthly wishes and goals.

And no, not all older children adopted at older ages show signs of RAD. In the majority of cases it's quite the opposite. Most of them are more than willing to have a family, to blend into a family, to be part of a family, and to fully identify with it.  In most cases, any less than pleasant conducts shows for a short period after the homecoming are no more than a few orphanage behaviors that need to be unlearned--and that will be unlearned in no time.

One single mom who adopted five children with special needs describes it as "a win-win situation". She gives the example of how much she dislikes household chores. Well, she says, the children provide her with a justification for not doing them--or, at least, for not being expected to do too much of them. Another adoptive parent says that after her family had welcomed home a girl with Down syndrome, they had found her to be an extremely positive influence upon them all in the sense of being a constant reminder of what is important in life, a constant reminder that sometimes we need to slow down, to get out of our typically hectic pace, and devote some time to what is really nurturing and invigorating within.

The above examples are not mine. I do apologize for not remembering anything about authorship and therefore being unable to give proper credit to the two writers. Yet, I'm reproducing what I recall because I deem it crucial for others to think about it. I'd like to add that when it comes to special needs, some time that you may spend on medical appointments is actually nothing in the light of the much greater flexibility offered by special ed as opposed to the much more rigorous daily activities of regular schooling.

We all know our limitations, and I won't claim that all kinds of special needs would be suitable for all families. We all know what kind of medical or behavioral challenges would be "too much" for us. It is a matter of finding a child who meets that profile that is so close to our hearts. Whether we prefer a "love bug," a shy and insecure little one who needs us at all times and fulfills our own need to be needed, or whether we'd rather have a more outgoing small "firecraker" full of spunk, there are children with special needs who meet all the different profiles. Exactly the same as typically developing kids, children with special needs have their very own personalities, their very own personal traits that make them stand out in the crowd--not because of their disabilities, but because of who they are and how they are in their hearts.

I'll stop here, after throwing a couple of other thoughts. We all have heard that "God doesn't give you a mission without the means to accomplish it." The other thought, which can be intertwined with the first one, is something deeply true as well that someone anonymously said: "Think that one day, when you look back into your life, you'll be more likely to regret those things you did not do than those you did." Because by not doing it, by not following through with those good dreams that are dear to us, we're failing to say yes to God's call in our lives.

And--for those who may think that their time is past, that they're too old, that there is no point in even trying at your current stage in life, please ask yourselves this question: How old were Abraham and his wife Sarah when God promised him that his descent would be as numerous as the stars on the sky? Most likely you're not even there yet. 

God bless--and please, pick up the phone and call a couple of adoption agencies. Don't put it off till tomorrow. Find a moment and do it today. Be at ease that you won't regret it. For sure you won't. Most importantly, you'll be adding a child to your family--and in the process, you'll be saving a child . . . or more than one.



1 comment:

John Pinson said...

I certainly mean no disrespect and I am sure you put a great deal of thought into the articulation of your theory. please don't forget that this is a year of mercy. i cant recall any recent incidents of trumps despicable behavior and it is quite possible that he like nearly 100% of God creatures has experienced some personal growth in recent years. I would almost bet on it given his overwhelming exposure to thousands of experiences that took him outside of his comfortable bubble. if he has not changed I know i'm in no danger of being fooled into supporting abortion. His opponent is totally out front with her views and promised to entrench a tradition of convenient death even deeper into our fabric. lets give a little mercy to the guy who at the very least has expressed a desire to grow. God Bless and happy growing.

 

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