When you first become a parent you think that love will conquer all things that get in your way while you parent your child. However, there are somethings that can’t be conquered. You can’t undiagnose a child who has been labeled special needs; and you can’t be the biological parent of a child that you didn’t give birth to. As a parent, your greatest tool is love…but love isn’t enough to make bad situations go away.
However, you can find ways to improve aspects of the quality of your children’s lives; and yours, as the parent of a special needs child or the parent of an adopted child. No matter what the situation, or what the diagnosis is…it doesn’t change the fact that you love your child.
Disppointment is a real life shadow when experiencing obstacles raising children with challenges. It can’t be avoided. But love isn’t enough to change limitations imposed by a specific diagnosis…but, love is enough to find ways to still enable as much independence as possible. When love isn’t enough to fill up the empty spots left by the void of a biological parent in their lives…it is enough to show compassion and empathy to help them understand that the empty spots don’t have to lead to destructive behaviors.
The truth be told; special needs children and adopted children need a strong advocate in life, in school, and in medical settings. No one knows your child better than you, the parent, and no one will fight harder for them; to get the things that they need, when they need it. Parents are on the front lines of battle for their child.
When love isn’t enough to magically make everything perfect and ok…it is enough to give you the courage and strength to face the challenges before you and your child; and to find ways to be successful and achieve the milestones in life, that you know your child will benefit from. Love is enough to provide acceptance and encouragement to be growing as a person to be the best person that they can be.
I will never forget the absolute thrill of becoming a mother, bringing home our first newborn baby girl. I was sure then that I could never love another so much…
Of course, I was wrong. When the second baby came home…then, the third …we were infused with the very same brand of hope, the same thrill, the same exhilaration we had experienced with Baby #1. We learned quickly how exponential love can be.
When I became a foster mom the arrival of the newest member of our family was surrounded by different circumstances, but the hope, thrill, exhilaration and exponential love were present as if he had been born to us.
This little boy’s reputation had preceded him: he was three years old, blond, with blue eyes and the social service worker described him as “appealing”. What she had not mentioned what that he was the wriggliest kid on earth! It took a case worker and a case aide to deliver this child to us! Although he communicated with his flirty blue eyes and his grunts and monosyllables he did not have any degree of language skills.
Nevertheless, our eyes met and we bonded. I loved him in the same the way I had loved my own flesh and blood when their impending arrivals were discovered!
These three kids, all exited and curious, gathered around the newcomer, stroking his hair, asking him questions, firing queries to their mother about why he didn’t bring more toys.
The back story is that this little guy had been born with multiple reasons for his “first mommy and daddy” to be unable to care for him. He had an open spine, a shunt to manage spinal fluid, double club feet and he was incontinent. Because of his special needs, the little charmer had been shunted from pillar to post. He lived in a children’s hospital, an orthopedic hospital and foster homes during the first three years of his life. Before his arrival to our home, he had been in four foster homes in three months, and three of those homes in 21 days. It was no wonder he was wriggly and cute! It was the only defense he had if he hoped to stay in one home for any length of time!
For our first dinner with him, fried chicken was on the menu. We put him in the highchair that had served our own kids and set a melamine plate before him. On the plate was a drumstick. We were not sure what foods he could eat but thought finger food could be a winner. He took the plate in one hand and the drumstick in the other and threw them in two directions! Our children, wide eyed, were AGHAST! That memory is one we all carry in our heads but we grin about it now. Even that little boy, all grown up now, laughs about his childish table manners!
When it was bedtime I could not find our nine year old daughter. At long last I discovered her on the floor of her bedroom closet. She was crying. She showed me the entry she had made in her diary: “Today our new brother came to live with us and he is as wild as an Indian. All the kids at school will make fun of him but I love him already.”