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What does it take to be a family who adopts a special needs child.

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Exactly What Does it Mean to Be a Special Needs Family


childrenDeciding to Adopt
Roy, my husband, had t hought about antiued to be on his heart and in November, after reading an article on adoption, he decided it couldn't hurt to get more information from the agency listed. When the information came in the mail, it was addressed to me, not Roy. Well, that got my attention and we started a serious discussion about adoption. I can’t say we actually decided to adopt as much as we simply embraced what we saw as God’s plan for our family. By December, we had signed with the agency, and started the paper chase!

Where is Our Baby?
Much like our plans to adopt, the location of our baby was in God’s hands. When we finally brought ourselves to discuss it with each other, without hesitation, or any other consideration, we both said China. Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but I didn't feel drawn to the other countries. The Chinese children captudopting for a long time, but I thought our hands and life were full with three children. It cored my heart.
Where is Our 'Baby' – Part 2
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans! We started the paper chase, and had the home-study done, all with the intent of waiting for the referral of an infant between 9 and 18 months of age. We specifically stated in our home-study that we were not “special needs” people. We knew “our” child was a healthy infant.
Our agency periodically posts a list of children with certain special needs on their website. A friend who had adopted from our agency made a plea via the agency email discussion group for Special Needs Child #6, Xin Zhi Dan, a three year old girl with a brace on her right leg and maybe scoliosis. She said that this little girl was on her heart and that somebody needed to bring her home. I looked at her picture and could not stop thinking about her. But when I discussed it with Roy, he really felt like we should continue to wait for an infant. So, I let it rest.
Over the next week or so, I struggled with this decision and thought of Xin Zhi Dan almost every waking moment. I prayed desperately to God to reveal to Roy and me if SHE was meant to be our daughter. I had tucked a picture of her in my Bible, and later that week Roy saw the picture. I told him of my prayers, and we both started praying. Soon we decided that we wanted to adopt her.
The date of our decision was May 13th and the Biblical passage for that day from my Devotional Bible Calendar was Ephesians 1:5: "He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will." Whatever the reason given, there is one underlying cause of all adoption: Those who adopt choose to adopt. They select adoption as their option. When God planned his method for creating his family, aside from his only natural son, Jesus Christ, God chose the adoption option. WOW! This is AWESOME! Now, the long wait to go and get her.began.
Okay, God. I guess we ARE Special Needs people
After we decide to adopt this child, we then needed to get up to speed on adopting a special needs child. We didn’t know anything about her special need other than a few very terse statements. We knew she had a brace on her right leg, and that she had what looked like scoliosis. They stated she would need surgery on her back. That was all; yet, I can honestly say that we never felt any anxiety or fear concerning what we may be facing. By this time we had witnessed so many times God’s hand in this that we were at peace. We did discuss it, and made plans for her treatment, but we did not entertain any negative thoughts or comments from anyone. We both agreed that we could at any time be facing any number of crisis with our biological children for any number of unforeseen reasons; therefore, we should not allow this to become an excuse to refuse God’s will for us and this precious child.
Travelling to China
In August we received our approval to travel to China. We flew to Beijing, and after a day of site-seeing, we flew to Guangzhou where we would be meeting our daughter. After getting in from our flight Sunday afternoon, our guide took us to the hotel, and then we went straight to get her. It was a mad dash to get to the civil affairs office in time. She came in and said, "Hello Mama. Hello Daddy". And, of course, we went to pieces!
She was all dressed up with a cute little hat and dress. She had everything we had sent to her at the orphanage. She has been sleeping with the puppy and blanket every night since. They said she told her friends that her Mommy and Daddy sent them to her. The caretakers wrote an entry in the journal we sent every day until the day we met her. It is obvious that they took very good care of her and love her very much.
She was very quiet the whole time we were in China. She spoke only a few words to our guide. Only later did we realize that she was grieving. We were so in love with her at the time that I don’t think we thought much about anything else. Whenever we would leave the hotel, she would hold her arms up for us to carry her. She was VERY good, but very quiet. Looking back now, we know she was sad and was very careful not to let us see it.
Coming Home
Almost as soon as we got home, she became a different child. She met her brothers and sister, and SHE WAS HOME! This very quite child became a very loud and happy child. And the very, very good child became a normal child. We went through a time of sleepless nights and tantrums, but they quickly disappeared.
She fit in so well, it’s as if she had always been here. What's amazing is how much her personality is similar to our biological children. We had prepared well and were on guard to recognize any of the attachment issues or institutional behaviors we had read about, however, we haven’t experienced them.
Dealing with Special Needs
Six months after we were home Amanda was under the care of Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. She was diagnosed with Congenital Scoliosis, Dextrocardia, Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome (as a result of the scoliosis), several fused ribs, and a single kidney. If left untreated, she would have likely died before she was ten years old. The treatment she has received has been phenomenal and her spine looks almost perfect and her lungs are growing normally. This treatment has saved her life, but more than that, it has made her whole. She can do almost anything any other child can do. Shriner’s has done all of this at no charge!
Our experience with special needs adoptions was so positive that we have since adopted another special needs daughter (cleft lip and palate) from China. Her lip was repaired in China and she has had two surgeries to repair her palate.
Prior to adopting we assumed that it takes a ‘special’ family to adopt a special needs child. In some cases that may be true; however, we are not a special family. We are a regular family who has been given a most extraordinary gift, and for that we are grateful. Our most sincere hope is that by our example, others may be encouraged to open themselves to the possibility that they may be blessed in a similar way. God has made possible every blessing to care for these children.

--Lori and Roy
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