“What is it like adopting/parenting special needs kids?”
I get this question a lot. My hubby and I have even spoken at orphan conferences about this topic, yet most often I don’t have a great, formulated response. (I don’t even like the phrase ‘special needs’ but it is the language of today used to describe some of my kids….so the debate about it’s implications..I will save that for another post)
Why don’t I have a fast formulated response? HMMMM….because this is just my life. I don’t sit around much and ask myself what doing my life is like; by God’s grace I just live it. I take each morning and attempt to be present in the moment…loving, laughing, crying, dreaming, hoping, despairing, feeling, doing, being….just right there in that moment…being as presently connected and intentional as possible. Sure, like all parents I lay down and night and let the reel of mistakes flood my mind and find myself begging God to help me the next day. Yes, I talk with my husband about the kids. We celebrate their accomplishments and victories, we evaluate their behavior…I.E. try to figure out what the heck is going on up in their brain that might have motivated today’s meltdowns.
I spend most of my days staring at “the tree” right in front of me and I don’t step way out of “the forest” daily and ask myself what it is like. Maybe I should? Maybe I shouldn’t? Maybe if I did, I would not have enough courage and strength to go back into the woods? Maybe it is best to be in the moment God has me in and step into the next with blind faith, not always over analyzing where I am going? Be present, intentional, gospel filled and just live? I think something switched in me during those long years of parenting Dax when he was so chronically and critically ill. When I really could not, as much as I wanted to, know what the next day held. I think God showed me what it was like to lay down my control….OK really have control pulled out of my clinched-white-knuckled-fists. It was actually very nice. My “over- doing- Martha -self” saw for a moment the peace of being a “sitting-being-listening- Mary”. But wouldn’t you know it…I being totally me…daily attempt to pick control back up. It is like my drug. Control. I so deeply want it. When I clamor for it, it steals my present moment living away. I think it is best for me to live focused and attune on the tree that God has placed directly in front of me. He knows the whole woods. He knows were I am going.
OK…sorry for the rabbit trail through the woods….back to my reason for blogging this morning.
I have a thought (I know crazy right??) about what it is like parenting my kiddos. It is often hard. There I said it. It is. Please don’t hear me complaining. I am not. But I want to be authentic and real. Parenting any kiddo is hard work. It just is.
I am missing church this morning yet again. I can count the number of times I have gone to church this fall/winter on one hand. Dax woke up this morning with, shall I say….not exactly correctly functioning intestines. The first episode, I tried to ignore (don’t judge me, we all do it) with the hopes that it was a fluke. The second episode, well that is just leftovers form the first time. Right?? The third time, well crap (literally) I had to be honest. Something was going on. So back to my closet I marched to take off my church clothes and back into my comfies (hmmm…maybe it is not that hard=)!).
I am not sure what is happening with Dax this morning. So, I will spend my day watching and wondering. Is it because we changed 2 of his regular medicines last week? Did he eat something yesterday? Is this a normal kid stomach bug? Is something going on with his liver this morning? What exact color was his poop? How much was it? Has he had enough to drink? Are his eyes turning yellow, indicating a liver issue? And the questioning will go on until I have a strong gut feeling and either take him to the doctor for blood work, or the Lord gives me peace to just keep watching. Most of those questions all parents would ask. Right? Maybe I have a few additional questions stuck in there. But we all watch and wonder.
What is my point? The journey of mommy-ing my kiddos is really much like yours. I am just a momma who has the privilege of parenting the little ones that God has put into my care on this side of eternity. Parenting my kids is just like parenting your kids. My kids are…well just like yours; they are wonderfully and fearfully made. Perfect in the eyes of the Father who created them and dreamed them up before the foundation of the world. Each child is different. Each mother must parent that child uniquely as God created them. Millions of mothers around the world miss church because of unexplainable poop. It is just part of the role of mommy. We are all inconvenienced by illness and tummy bugs. We all have plans that have to be rearranged when one of our little ones get sick. We all miss parties and girls nights out. We all have to prioritize during these young years. We all worry about our kids futures, who they will marry. If they will marry. Do they have enough friends? Do they have the right friends? Do they eat the right food to live to be 100yrs old? Do they brush their teeth enough not to need dentures if they live to be 100yrs old? Do they need a hair cut this week or next week? Is that bump on their leg, a bug bite, chicken pox or HAVE THEY BEEN BITTEN BY A BROWN RECLUSE, because I might have seen one in the attic 4 years ago when we first moved in? Was that response they just gave me acceptable or was that disrespectful? And ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON the questions go……………… THANK YOU JESUS…you hold their yesterdays, todays and tomorrows in YOUR hands!
I, like you, would lay my life down for them. Sacrifice everything for them. I hover, fret, worry, and love them with every fiber of who I am. I am often exhausted…asking all those questions would be exhausting for anyone! But just like your kids, my kids bring me joy unspeakable. More joy and blessing than I ever knew possible. I have the honor of discovering their special gift and talents, their little funny personalities. I have to advocate for them, when they are misunderstood. I have to help them navigate disappointments and hurt feelings. I have the joy of showing them the hope of Christ and the healing power of the gospel in a sinful fallen and broken world.
So……“What is it like adopting/parenting special needs kids?”
Simply put…it is wonderfully hard…just like adopting/parenting “normal” (I don’t actually think there is such a thing, but that is for another post on another day) kids!
Off to wipe a bottom =)…..
One closing thought….I do believe 100% that all adoptive and foster parents need to be prepared and ready for the journey of raising our blessings. Check out www.empoweredtoconnect.org for training, help, encouragement and hope along the way!