1 out of 1361

November 3, 2009 cl/cp, DonnaT 6 Comments

One thousand three hundred and sixty-one days ago, we saw our our daughter, Madeline, for the very first time. She was a grainy image on a fax we’d received from our agency and we were only seeing her photo this early because she was “special need”. Five months earlier, we’d adopted a NSN baby girl from China and learned through our travel mates about China’s SN program. At that moment, two things happened:

  1. We realized that everything we assumed we knew about SN kids was wrong.
  2. We knew our next child would come from our agency’s SN list.

I know that sounds painfully simple and it really was. When I called our agency five months after bringing our first daughter home, they told me about the child who would be our 2nd daughter. The rest, as they say, is history.

I realize procedures and time lines are different today but I’m pretty sure one thing isn’t: The kids.

Our daughter is a normal child. She not physically or emotionally perfect but neither are we (or any of our other so-called “non special needs” kids). In the last 1361 days, there has only been one day that her special needs were the dominant driving force in our life and that was the day we had her cleft palate repaired.

Here’s a synopsis of that day:


I’ve had lots of trouble coming up with my first post here because I just don’t think about my kids in terms in their SN’s.

Only one of our kids is “technically” SN but all of our kids could be. Our bio son had a undescended testicle until age 5 and that’s a common SN in China. He also had febrile seizures until age 3 and that’s another SN. But he’s 21 and totally healthy now.

I was a 3 pound preemie and I had (and still have) a small red birthmark (an hemangioma) on my head under all my hair. Either of those issues would have landed me on a SN list.

Gwen, our technically NSN child, has severe food aversions and still won’t eat anything that doesn’t completely dissolve in her mouth. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to make a special accommodation for her or worry about her food “issues”.

In contrast, we don’t even think about Maddy’s SN it at all. I’m not even sure if it’s okay to say that because there are some SN’s that are much more serious or difficult to casually overlook and I’d never want to say anything that minimizes the significance of what day-to-day life is like in any of those richly blessed families. Our situation is merely different in that it’s not really different at all. We just don’t notice that we have a SN child until it’s time to write a story for this site or until we realize that our LID for Maddy was 5/25/06 and we’d still be YEARS away from her referral were it not for the fact that she had that totally insignificant little fissure in the roof of her mouth. Something we weren’t even sure we needed to fix but easily fixed in just one day.

One day out of 1361.

(The rest of our story is unfolding, day by day, on our family blog: Double Happiness)

6 responses to “1 out of 1361”

  1. Eileen says:

    When my toddler daughter (now age 8) became ill, I remember thinking, "You've got to be wrong. Our kids are HEALTHY!" It totally floored me. Thankfully, she grew out of her condition and is healthy once again. But I do think that that experience opened my mind to accepting a special needs referral a few years down the road. I KNEW that these are just kids, like any other. And of course all of them have a special need–a home!

  2. Stefanie says:

    Love your perspective, Donna! Our kids are just that.. KIDS! And wonderfully healthy ones at that 🙂
    Love to see how Maddy has bloomed since coming home!
    And, as usual, I love how your pictures tell such a powerful story 🙂
    P.S. I changed your post so it would post on top 😉

  3. Cari says:

    This post hits close to home for me, as we will be going back to China in a few months to bring home our almost 2yo daughter, who has bilateral cleft lip and palate. Back in 2005, while in China for the adoption of our NSN daughter, I saw a baby in the orphanage with cleft lip. I did not know what that was at that time, but God spoke to my heart and said that child needed a home the same as "healthy" ones. Four years later, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory with SN adoption, but so thankful for shared experiences like yours!

  4. Joan says:

    Thank you… this is so timely. The other day I was telling a friend about the vacation time I need to use for our individual "Special Needs". I have crappy teeth that need gentle repair – my special need. My older daughter is having some emotional times so she is in counseling – her special need. My younger daughter was born with cleft lip/palate and she goes in for check ups and speech therapy – her special need. Of the three of us, only one was labeled SN. I guess she found the right family. 🙂

  5. The Wanderers' Daughter says:

    A beautifully-written and styled post. Just lovely.

  6. The Gang's Momma says:

    Love this story. Thanks for sharing it. I'm busy sending friends from all over to this blog – it's awesome that so many great stories are here to spread the word and share the story of our kids!

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