Since I’ve become a mom to a child with a visible special need, I’ve noticed something interesting about the way some people perceive me.
Many people, from our guides in China to friends who know our schedules with various specialists to random strangers in grocery lines, want to promote me to sainthood. They say things like, “Thank you for giving her a chance at a normal life.” or “Wow, you sure do juggle a lot of medical appointments.” or “Just imagine what her life would have been like…” And while I would love to sit back and polish my halo, I have a confession to make.
I’m just a mom. Really.
Yes, we may have more doctor appointments than most. (And of course less than many others). We may even be on first name basis with more than one specialist at Duke University.
But I’m just a mom.
The fact that I’m raising two kids that came out of the special needs program (and one who came through the non-special needs program and yet has her own set of unique challenges) doesn’t make me any more special than any other mom out there that loves her kids.
Because that’s the whole point. I’m not raising a label or a condition or even a disorder. I’m raising my three children.
I’m just like every other mom who would move heaven and earth if it were in her power to make life a little better for her kids. I’m just like any other mom who would step in front of a bus to save her child. I’m just like any other mom, biological or adoptive, mom to healthy kids or those with health concerns, that at the end of the day sneaks into her child’s room for one last glance at her cherubs before going to bed. I’m just another mom who collapses into bed at night, spent from the effort of the day, yet happy to have the reasons to be worn out.
Because I love my kids.
Don’t get me wrong. Don’t go into a special needs adoption blindly. Do research. Lots of research. Know the full range of the condition you are considering. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
And sure, there are a bunch of things that make parenting special needs children a bit easier. Patience, tough skin (for those insensitive comments that are bound to come up from time to time), a reliable vehicle (to transport you and said child to various appointments), a network of family and friends( to offer support or to watch any other kids that you don’t want to drag to marathon specialist appointments), and reasonable insurance are pretty high on my checklist of things that make this journey easier. When you stop to reflect, you’ll probably find that you already have most of those.
If you are considering a special needs adoption, remember. You don’t have to be a saint, or even necessarily have “a full checklist” to adopt a child with a special need.
In the end, it really comes down to love…