Sunday, October 26, 2014


We were talking about adoption. She admitted that she's not open to special needs. "Not everyone can do that," she said.

I didn't hear the rest of the conversation, so puzzled was I by that last statement. 

Do what, exactly? What is it she thinks I do? 

Meet my kids needs? Love them? Sacrifice my time, energy, and self to make sure they're cared for? That's just good parenting and it's what all good parents do, regardless of the needs of their kids. 

What superhuman qualities does she think I possess that she doesn't?

The statement bothered me. It bothers me, still, and I can't quite put my finger on why. 

I feel like we're putting children into categories and those with special needs are a subspecies. In adoption, you get to choose. There are boxes to be checked. You get to decide what's acceptable. It's a measurement held up against a child to see if they pass the test to be in your family. 

Those with special needs are found wanting, time and time again. They are left languishing, usually dying, in institutions. They are left waiting in group homes, statistically more likely to be abused than not. They are shuffled from foster home to foster home until a permanent institutional placement is found. They are left behind. 


Because, while they have no facts to back it up and no first hand knowledge of what that actually entails, potential adoptive parents believe "not everyone can do that." It's too big. It's too scary. They don't want a subspecies. They just want a normal child. They don't see the child with special needs as a child, at all. 

Sadly, it's not just relegated to adoption. As prenatal testing becomes more sophisticated and widely used, the unborn must now audition to be a member of the family, as well. Score too high on the chromosome test or too low in grey matter, and you fail. Not only do you not get a family, your sentence is death and you don't even get a chance to prove your worth. 

We live in a society in which easy has become idolized. That which costs something, which taxes us in any way without great perceived reward, is to be avoided. Including children. 

Let me let you in on a little secret. Parenting children with special needs is rewarding. Personally, I don't think it's any more or any less rewarding than parenting typical kids. It's just different. Sometimes, it's amazing and filled with joy. Your child reaches a milestone they've been working on for months and you feel like your heart will burst within you. 

And sometimes, it sucks.  Kids are messy and demanding and exhausting. Kids with special needs are sometimes those things on steroids. 

But, once you say yes to a child, you love him to the moon and you wouldn't trade him for the world, even with the messy and demanding and exhausting, because he's yours. And he is worth that. And, actually, you find that isn't nearly as big or as scary as it once was. In fact, that kind of fades into the background and turns into something you now know simply as life.

And life is good.