April 30, 2010

special needs?

I am a most ordinary person.

I drink Diet Coke with my McDonald’s French fries. I love Target and People Magazine. I drive a mini-van for goodness sakes.

Back when we were just starting out on our adoption journey, I began to hear bits and pieces about the ‘Waiting Child’ program that the CCAA has in place for children with "special needs". I assumed that this program was for kids who weren’t ‘normal’. For children that would probably have too many needs for a family like ours to parent. Especially considering our four other children who were already at home. "I don’t have the time or the energy", I thought.

Plus, I have a real fondness for all things ‘normal’.

What I did not know at the time, but soon learned, is that the children in the waiting child program are normal. Not only normal, but healthy. And wonderful. The more I researched the waiting child program while we were waiting for our non-special needs referral, the more I realized that adopting a child with special needs was something our family could do. Easily.

There were definitely some needs that we felt would be too much for us, but many of the needs seemed very manageable. A few seemed even, dare I say it, easy. It took Chris a few months to come to a place where he was ready to consider taking on the additional responsibility of adopting a child with special needs. He, as the head of our household, had to consider all the logistical aspects of what it might entail. But God calmed our fears and soon we moved forward in faith. We submitted a medical needs checklist and waited to see God's plan unfold.

On February 7, 2005 I received the call of a lifetime. It was our agency's Special Needs Program coordinator. And she had a referral for us to consider.

Isabelle at referral

That referral was a tiny 7 month old girl with a minor heart defect. We knew immediately that she was our daughter and accepted her referral. We have never looked back at the traditional non-special needs program.

Adopting a waiting child has been such a multi-faceted blessing for us and for our whole family. We didn’t start out on our adoption journey as a rescue mission, but indeed we did rescue a child. A tiny girl with a hole in her heart that needed to be repaired. And we were, with the help of our insurance and a wonderful children’s hospital, able to have her heart repaired to normal. Now we can watch our ‘normal’ child grow up with the love and safety of a family she might have never had in China.

Luke 6:38
"If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over."

Since bringing home Isabelle in 2005, we have brought home her sisters Sophie and Vivienne, and her brothers Jude and Shepherd. All waiting children. All with differing special needs. And we have been blessed exponentially by being able to provide each of them with the medical attention they need while watching them grow and flourish as they find their place in their forever family.

Every night as I go to bed, I am grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to parent these children. I have been blessed. We have all been blessed. Our children have learned that children with medical issues or disabilities are more than their 'needs'. Each and every one is precious. And, above all, every bit as deserving of love and a family as a ‘normal’ child. We have all been forever changed by our decision to step out of the boat and follow God's prompting to consider special needs adoption.

Isabelle today

Certainly not every family is cut out for the waiting child program. And for those that feel lead to stay in the non-special needs program most definitely should. It's a decision each family must make thoughtfully and carefully, it is a lifetime commitment to parent any child.

But for our family, the blessings have far outweighed the risks. We can't wait to bring home our next waiting child. Whoever they might be, whatever their special need, we are certain of one thing. We will be blessed to be their family.

1 Corinthians 2:9
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him."

**I wrote this post when we were waiting to bring Jude home in 2007. But our story is as true today as it was back then. So I thought I'd update it and share it here. I hope you enjoy it.


  1. I don't think I've ever seen Isabelle's referral picture. She's a doll. 7 months old..wow.

  2. Thanks for sharing Stefanie. Beautiful!

    And you updated it right? And left that last paragraph before the Scripture?! ;))))

  3. Oh, it's updated alright, L! Good catch :)

  4. This post changed my perspective forever. I remember it from 2007, and it made me realize that we can adopt a special needs child too. It did take my husband a little longer (and that's okay!), but we are now taking care of the paperwork for our special needs adoption. We are very excited, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so open! I am also excited to read that last paragraph! :-)

  5. Thank you for re-sharing this post. Isabelle is a beautiful child (as are all of your children!). It was in 2006 while waiting for a healthy child that God forever changed our hearts to embrace a waiting child. I'm so glad He did! I can't imagine our family without little Maimie. And now we wait for God to bless us with another daughter from the waiting child's list.

  6. Stefanie, I could have written this myself. Seriously. From the diet Coke and french fries to the mini van and assumption that "special needs" kids wouldn't ever be close enough to normal for us to realistically consider.

    Boy were we wrong! And, thankfully, we figured it out in time to swoop in and bring home our sweet baby girl, Maddy!

    All kids are SN! Some just have their needs spelled out more clearly before you get them.
    Most SN children are vibrant and healthy and whole and fully capable of a rich and happy and long life regardless of whether or not their SN can be totally corrected.

    But some are very sick. And they need families too. I'm ashamed to say that I'm not strong enough to mother a child who has SN's that "are not compatible with life" but I'm so thankful that other people are. Can I share a blog with you?


    I'm holding my breath and praying with all my heart and soul that this sweet little girl walks out of that hospital. I find it impossible to look at her photos and not see my children. And I'm so grateful that she has a family with her in these pivotal hours/days.

    I know your post was about SN's that are easy and manageable (like most SN's) but my heart has been really heavy with the story of Chrissie lately. I hope you don't mind that I shared it here.

    Our Blog: Double Happiness!

  7. Are you reading my mail - lol? Seriously, I LOVE the way God changes our hearts! Our adoption stories are so similar. I praise Him that He alone can calm the fears and bring His plans to fruition. Blessings, Sister!

  8. Absolutely, Donna! Thanks for sharing such a touching story with everyone here :)

  9. Stefanie, I have been a visitor of this site and your personal site for a while but never commented...however, when I read this I knew I must. In fact, I quickly read the comments to see if anyone else had noticed the reference you had made! My husband and I are just beginning the process to bring a daughter home from China via the Waiting Child program and your site has been a great resource. Thank you for NHBO and also thank you for continuing to be faithful to the Lord's calling on your life!