Special Needs

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Today is World Adoption Day.  Most adoptive families are fans of the show This is Us because it does a beautiful job of giving voice to the many different sides of adoption.  But this week was the first time that special needs adoption was brought up.  When Randall tried to stick it to the social worker in jail and she stuck it right back to him about telling the deaf 4 year old that she still didn’t have a family for her in sign language, my throat got stuck in my throat.

May I take a moment to introduce my family to you?

Nine years ago, my husband and I wanted to adopt internationally.  We planned to adopt a baby girl from China.  On our initial application I believe we requested an infant girl, as young as possible, and checked the box “Non-Special Needs.”  Within the next few months we learned that those three criteria meant a very, very long wait.

Over time we opened up to the idea of special needs and accepted a referral for a two-year-old girl with albinism.  We learned from our case worker that having albinism meant that not only would she have blonde hair and fair skin, she would also be visually impaired.  We knew so little about albinism at the time that we literally just thought that would mean that she would wear glasses.

Once we got to China and met her, we realized just how poor her vision was and we were scared.  God gave us peace that she was our daughter, but we were still clueless and unsure of what her future would look like.  Fast forward a few years and we learned that not only was she legally blind, she was also hearing impaired and dyslexic.  I am ashamed to say that if we had seen these things listed in a file back then, I am fairly certain that we would have not accepted it.

I am not saying that God tricked us or that it is good that parents don’t know the whole picture when they adopt, but…. I do believe that He leads us step by step and can soften our hearts to certain children and give us courage in the most loving way.

I am not exaggerating when I say that our daughter, who is now 11, is probably the most amazing child that I have ever met.  Her grit, her personality, and her inner beauty inspire me every day.  She is a ray of sunshine, a passionate leader, and a force to be reckoned with.  What if we’d missed out on being her parents because we never checked that box for Special Needs?

I cannot tell you how many ways adopting our daughter has improved our lives.  She is truly a blessing to all who meet her.  She may have some special needs but she gift to us.  Having her in our family has changed the way we view the world, and even prompted us to adopt again, this time a child with more “severe” special needs.

If you are considering adoption, please don’t overlook the ones who are already waiting.