My wife and I sat there staring at the computer screen. We had filled out an application to adopt a two-year old orphan with arthrogryposis from China.
All that was left was to click the “send” button. That’s it.
Just click that button.
Our hesitation wasn’t because pressing a button was a hard thing to do. No, our hesitation was because adopting a child with special needs seemed like an absolutely impossible thing to do. Once we pushed that enter key on our keyboard and the key made electrical contact sending our application across the country, it would ignite a chain of events that would change our family of four forever.
Maybe for the better. But maybe for the worse.
Let me step back and explain how we got to this point. It all started months earlier at a Bible study where our leader asked the members to write on a piece of paper the “missed blips” on your radar from the Holy Spirit. What has God called you to do that you were missing? Or, more accurately in our case, deliberately ignoring. My wife Corinne didn’t have a doubt on what to write. She’s been talking since we were married 15 years earlier about adopting an orphan with special needs internationally. We didn’t know if he or she was from Ukraine, or Haiti, or China. But we knew our child was out there.
However, we also thought parents of kids with special needs were unique. They’ve been given an extra dose of compassion and emotional strength. What if we weren’t like them and just were setting up our family for failure?
That led us to this point of amassing the courage to fill out an application and staring at the button. We clicked it. The moment was simultaneously trivial and one of the most significant moments of our lives.
I later realized that very act of pressing the button literally proves God exists. You see, I’m selfish. Really. If it was just my idea, I would choose to to take the easy route every day of the week. But, without a doubt, only God Himself could compel us to adopt this boy.
In fact, there’s an irony that us special needs adoptive parents realize. We all prayed fervently that our biological kids would be healthy. That they’d be free of disease or physical challenges. And then a decade later, we find ourselves draining our life savings to become a parent to a child which we know has severe problems. Yep. That certainly wasn’t my idea. That simply wouldn’t happen if God wasn’t orchestrating it all like symphony conductor.
However, like many first time adoptive parents, the next year included self doubt on our ability to do this.
When we arrived in China for both of our adoptions, we quickly realized that we weren’t alone. We met a total of 23 other families like ours ranging from first time parents to others on their fourth special-needs adoption.
But these families … these people … were unlike others that we’ve ever met. They had a humility, a kindness, and a love for God that is uncommon. But there was something else that struck me. They were also ordinary people like us called by the Holy Spirit and were simply following instructions given to them. There was no pretention. No one had a savior complex of rescuing a child.
They were simply natural people following supernatural instructions from an infinite God.
Sitting in our hotel in China over the upcoming days, occasionally a parent would have a panic attack. You know, that temporary moment of dread that they were way over their head. And instantly, there were others there to give them a hug and reassurance. And soon after, those same parents would be confidently comforting another family.
What I wish I’d known about special needs adoptive community is you’re never alone. There’s an army of other parents in the same circumstances there to offer support – without any sense of rivalry that other biological parents might have when discussing their kids..
Anyone in the special needs adoption community knows what I’m talking about. We find each other on social media and instantly become close friends. We already know everything we need to know about each other. When we meet in person for the first time, there’s hugging like we were long lost family being reunited.
What I wish I’d known about the adoption community before is it’s an intricate network of support. Just by considering to adopt a child with special needs, you’re doing something that goes completely against a parent’s natural tendencies. You have just joined a select fraternity of parents with an untreatable bond that you have never seen before. You’ve become part of a vast and deep support system which is set to give emotional, physical support or advice on a moment’s notice.
We have friends from our first and second adoption that I’m confident that we’ll be in touch with for decades to come. We also have a circle of adoptive friends which we’ve never met in person. We have friends who haven’t adopted yet but support parents who do. And we have hundreds of others that support each other every day on social media. The support is real.
What I wish I’d known about the a special needs adoption community is they aren’t extraordinary people with supernatural powers. They’re ordinary people like you and me serving a supernatural God. They’re people who simply take the Bible seriously when it says in Psalm 82:3 to “Defend the weak and the fatherless.”
What I wish I’d known about the special needs adoption community is before I knew it, I’d soon be one of them. Supporting others and sharing my stories which might help them a little.
I know pressing that button to send in an application takes courage, but I still have yet to meet an adoptive parent who regrets pressing it.
God is orchestrating this. There’s a network of people to lean on whenever you need it. Just press the button.