Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Jan
09

Do People with Special Needs have Value?

By Rainy on January 9th, 2010

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Written by Shara Lawrence-Weiss, owner of Mommy Perks and Personal Child Stories

 

I really debated whether or not to write this article. I came to the conclusion that the subject matter matters enough – to put myself on the line.

I truly believe that much of the evil of the world continues because so many people do nothing. It’s not that they necessarily endorse the acts of evil but they turn a blind eye…which really leaves but one assumption: they are a part of the problem because they are not a part of the solution.

I refuse to be one of those people.

I’m only one tiny little voice. I understand that. I can’t change the world. I try and I fail. Day after day. But I continue to try and I refuse to give up.

My husband and I moved to a tiny little town just over a year ago. A few months ago I joined the town charity group. We help children and seniors – to pay their winter bills, buy coats for the needy kids, host fundraisers, etc. Tonight was our monthly meeting. We met at the home of one of our members – stunning home with an incredible hand crafted deck, cabinets and more. I arrived and looked around, in awe. I don’t have anything like this and I’m absolutely okay with that. I know what I have and it means the world to me: a soul mate for a husband and three fantastic mini humans. This thought ran through my mind…”My family means everything to me.” So much more than any beautiful home or any material thing. I am always happy for others when they have beautiful things – I feel glad for them. I smiled to myself and sat down for the meeting – with a heart full of gratitude for the people in my life that I am blessed to call FAMILY.

The woman running the meeting is a spectacular person. If the truth be told, my husband and I would both agree that she is our favorite town member of all. From the moment we moved here and met her we both said, “She is the one. She is the one with the heart – kind, caring, loving, selfless.” She gives of her time and money (what little she has) day after day – to help others who have less than her. She is poor by the world’s standards but if you showed up at her doorstep, hungry, she would feed you. She would clothe you. She would give you shelter and warmth.

At the end of the meeting she said, “Okay. Go around the table and tell us your New Year’s resolutions.”

We began to state our resolutions one by one. When it came to my turn I said, “I don’t like to say what I am going to stop. I like to say what I plan to continue. I plan to continue loving my family, caring about the environment, promoting life and doing what I can to make a difference.” The man sitting across from me said loudly, “I am pro life, too, but if the baby is sick, abort it. If it’s sick – why have it? Just abort and be done with it.”

My heart stopped beating for about 10 seconds, I think.

My son has a special need. He was born with numerous medical complications and I spent a full 2 years in and out of doctor’s offices, addressing his needs. Blood filled my veins quickly and my hands began to shake. I just starred at him for a moment and then looked away, dumbfounded.

The final person shared their resolution and the meeting came to an end. The woman in charge of the meeting (the one I mentioned earlier) began to talk with me and another woman about braces. Mine have finally come off and they were pointing that out, asking if I was happy about it, etc. This woman (the one we love so much) had gotten braces after having cleft palate surgery. She explained that this had left her mouth a little funky and wanted to know if I’d had the same experience with my braces.

I have always wondered what her story was. I knew she had a story. A deep story. A human soul does not become so caring and so loving without a story.

I looked at her with intensity and said, “You have a cleft palate? Did you have surgery?” She answered, “Yes, I did.”

I walked over to her, looked her in the eyes and asked, “How do you feel when someone says what he just said? That a baby with medical issues should be aborted? How does that make you feel?”

Her eyes welled up with tears and so did mine. She replied, “I believe I have value, Shara. I think I add value to this world. You know?”

I put my arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Yes. Of course I do.”

She went on to tell me that she had been born with a cleft palate and that she’d had Scarlet Fever at the age of 5. That’s why she is now deaf. She wears a hearing aid and has trouble talking. Her parents did not get medical help for her as a child. She had to pay for her own surgery at the age of 21.

That’s right. 21.

She was tortured and ridiculed and picked on during her entire childhood.

I told her that I was angry at this man for his ignorant statement. And do you know what she said to me?

She said, “Shara. I have learned that you can’t always judge people because of what they believe. Sometimes they simply don’t know any better. He has never had a child or a grandchild with a special need. He doesn’t get it. If my parents had aborted me…he doesn’t understand that…” Her eyes filled with tears again.

I finished her thought. I whispered, “He doesn’t understand that people like you teach people like him. That a person like you has something to teach others.”

“Exactly.” she answered. “People like him do not realize that people like me add value to the world. That I have something to teach that can benefit others. He doesn’t see it.”

She placed her hand over her heart and continued on: “God doesn’t reveal everything to us all at once. He teaches us in stages. It’s a growing process. We need to have mercy on him.”

I stood there, eyes wet with tears, in complete shock. She had just been told by someone that her life added no value to this world yet she was instructing me to be merciful to him. To the very person who saw her life as meaningless and disposable.

The words of Scripture ran through my head like a force of nature: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

I pictured Jesus walking through town, talking to people and instructing them to have mercy on one another. To love and to forgive. Putting his arms around those who didn’t understand and kindly explaining to them…another way to view things. No name calling. No hate. No disgust. Just mercy.

As I looked into her eyes tonight I saw the face of Jesus and I heard His very words being spoken through her. I could no longer hate this man or despise him on her behalf. I had no right. I decided that my best option was to share this story with others in the hopes of giving another viewpoint on those with special needs.

They do add value to our world. They do matter. It’s my prayer that some day…we will all come to see that. Some way. Some how. It’s also my prayer that we will each be more mindful of how we speak and of the words we use. Words have the power to cut and they have the power to heal.

Let’s be people who use healing words. I choose to be someone who uses healing words and I invite you to join me.

 

I wish to thank Shara Lawrence-Weiss for guest blogging for me on this subject.  She shared this story and I found it compelling and asked her to share it with my readers.  I want to thank the woman who exhibited the compassion and understanding of Jesus towards the man who did not understand how much that he devalues people who are born with challenges.   There but for the grace of God go any of us.  Every life has value.

Shara is an amazing woman and writer.  She is filled with compassion for those who share the planet with her.  She does many great and wonderful things, with no desire for glory for herself, but one of the best things that she does is write stories that share a  child’s personal story.   Every one of us has a  life story and we can learn from one another.   You can learn more about her wonderful work here:  http://www.personalchildstories.com/  Check her out…surely you know a child who deserves a book all about themselves!  Be blessed.

Sep
02

Is There A Need For Support For Families Of Adopted And Or Special Needs Children?

By Rainy on September 2nd, 2008

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        My husband and I are the proud parents of six adopted children.  We have 3 girls and 3 boys.  Each person has their own gifts and blessings.   Some of those children are special needs children; and some are not.  We have children with special needs issues ranging from bi-polarism, to ADHD, to learning disabilities, to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, some have behavior related issues.  One is homeschooled, one is in special education classes, one should have been, and some have benefitted from regular educational services. Some are adults living their own lives very successfully.  Others struggle in some areas of  day- to- day activities.  A couple have to be supervised or encouraged every waking moment of the day to help keep them focussed on being the best person that they can be.  :)    They are all loved, supported and have brought much to our family. 

        Each person has their abilities and their challenges.  None of them did anything to deserve the life they were born into; they had no control over the very beginning of their life.  Yet, each of them must strive to have a loving, healthy, productive and happy life.  It is possible.  Some adaptations may be required for some of my children to have an independent life; but, it is possible.   Since it IS possible, we will do whatever we can do to help make that happen.

          Adoption is a complex thing.  It serves many purposes and yet…it has an ability to wound, to heal, to lift up, to destroy, to save lives, and to shuffle lives.  There are always imprints of a life that was supposed to be; melded into the life that is gifted and aborbed into another family.  There are moments of: celebration, sadness,  regrets, and purposeful choices; adoption is a wonderfully, painful mixture of the emotional buffet of life!  It is a parent’s responsibility to seek excellence for the quality of life for their children.

        Our family is special and unique; I bet your family is too!  We have had many successes as a family; as well as, some twists and turns that were unexpected.   The dream of a new parent doesn’t usually include the expectation that things could turn out differently from the dream of a picture perfect family.  A birth family or an adopted family does not get to choose from an ‘ala carte menu, of challenges it may or may not face.   As most parents would say, we live and breath for our children; and yet, we are not ashamed to say at times…we wonder…did we do the right thing?  Our children didn’t get a choice in life in which family they would grow up in.  There are shades of grey for each person…balancing the pros and cons of adoption.

         Whether a child is brought into a family by birthing it into the family, or by adoption…the child is received with awe, with excitement, and with hope for a beautiful future.  There are unexpected situations at times regarding health issues, behavioral issues, attachment issues, emotional issues and even loyalty issues.  Those things and more can affect the foundation of a family.

         Many families are jolted to learn that their child has special needs or that their adopted child has issues that will affect them and their family for years to come.  It is a difficult time for parents and other siblings to struggle to learn about the issues facing the family…because…none of us go it alone. 

          Family is a support system all unto itself…but, sometimes the issues can seem overwhelming.  That is the time that families need to reach beyond their boundaries that are self imposed, because many do not understand what we face as families with challenges.  Don’t let that stop you from reaching out.  You just might be surprised by the impact that you could have on another…or vice versa.

          Really, for many people going through the shattered reality that their family is not following the dream of perfect completion…there is a sense of isolation and a perceived lack of understanding from others who have not walked in the same pair of shoes.

          So, is there a need for support and information for families who have experiences that can mirror each other?  Is there a wealth of understanding that is untapped because we have not had the opportunity to join forces and absorb techniques and encouragement from one another?  I think there is.  I have heard so many comments that would break your heart.  Families that are under so much strain that they threaten to break and disintegrate under the pressure.  If one person or family can benefit from sharing and encouraging each other here; then, the blog will have served it purpose.

         Do you know someone who has things to share?  Do you know someone who could benefit from a little support or information?  Do you know someone who is facing a future with a special needs child and is struggling?  Do you know someone with rose colored glasses that is thinking about adoption; but, isn’t willing to accept anything less than perfection?  Bring them to a place that will enlighten them, encourage them, and embrace them!  Families should be celebrated and enjoyed…not everyone is blessed with people to share their love with.

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