One thousand three hundred and sixty-one days ago, we saw our our daughter, Madeline, for the very first time. She was a grainy image on a fax we'd received from our agency and we were only seeing her photo this early because she was "special need". Five months earlier, we'd adopted a NSN baby girl from China and learned through our travel mates about China's SN program. At that moment, two things happened:
- We realized that everything we assumed we knew about SN kids was wrong.
- We knew our next child would come from our agency's SN list.
I know that sounds painfully simple and it really was. When I called our agency five months after bringing our first daughter home, they told me about the child who would be our 2nd daughter. The rest, as they say, is history.
I realize procedures and time lines are different today but I'm pretty sure one thing isn't: The kids.
Our daughter is a normal child. She not physically or emotionally perfect but neither are we (or any of our other so-called "non special needs" kids). In the last 1361 days, there has only been one day that her special needs were the dominant driving force in our life and that was the day we had her cleft palate repaired.
Here's a synopsis of that day:
I've had lots of trouble coming up with my first post here because I just don't think about my kids in terms in their SN's.
Only one of our kids is "technically" SN but all of our kids could be. Our bio son had a undescended testicle until age 5 and that's a common SN in China. He also had febrile seizures until age 3 and that's another SN. But he's 21 and totally healthy now.
I was a 3 pound preemie and I had (and still have) a small red birthmark (an hemangioma) on my head under all my hair. Either of those issues would have landed me on a SN list.
Gwen, our technically NSN child, has severe food aversions and still won't eat anything that doesn't completely dissolve in her mouth. Not a day goes by that I don't have to make a special accommodation for her or worry about her food "issues".
In contrast, we don't even think about Maddy's SN it at all. I'm not even sure if it's okay to say that because there are some SN's that are much more serious or difficult to casually overlook and I'd never want to say anything that minimizes the significance of what day-to-day life is like in any of those richly blessed families. Our situation is merely different in that it's not really different at all. We just don't notice that we have a SN child until it's time to write a story for this site or until we realize that our LID for Maddy was 5/25/06 and we'd still be YEARS away from her referral were it not for the fact that she had that totally insignificant little fissure in the roof of her mouth. Something we weren't even sure we needed to fix but easily fixed in just one day.
One day out of 1361.
(The rest of our story is unfolding, day by day, on our family blog: Double Happiness)