Special Needs Love
“Mommy, why did you even adopt me? Why did I have to be born with these pwoblems?” The little voice from the backseat was heavy with tears as we drove the last few miles to the hospital. Trepidation and weariness were overtaking my six-year-old son as I took him to the third surgery in three months — his 16th procedure since we adopted him. I think. I’ve lost count. I’m kind of tired of the routine, too. But the hospital visits have been a “normal” event in our lives since we brought him home from China five years ago. I’ve always approached them as I do laundry: a necessary but unpleasant task. But my uber-bubbly son typically bounced into the hospital, charming the nurses and giving high-fives to the doctors like he was a celebrity coming to hand out lollipops. So my son’s question penetrated my heart with pain as I realized how overwhelming his condition must seem to him sometimes.
We were three months into the adoption process of getting our home study and paperwork completed when I called Chinese Children Adoption International, our adoption agency, about a toddler on the waiting child list with club feet. When we applied to our agency, we had applied for the traditional program to adopt “a child with no known special needs” but prayerfully considered adopting a special needs child. We filled out the medical checklist of issues we would be able to accommodate. “Special needs” includes children with minor medical conditions, children with more severe disabilities, and healthy kids who are older than the typical adoptable age of an infant or toddler. Though we were early into the process, my husband and I found ourselves drawn to the photo listing of special needs children ready for adoption and waiting for their “forever family” to step forward. My heart ached for these kids who had been abandoned due to their birth families’ inability to care for their medical conditions. Many of the conditions we would consider normal, living in a country with advanced medical care covered by insurance.
The toddler I called about had just been spoken for by another family. “But I have a child who would be perfect for your family. The information is in translation right now, but I can email it to you by the end of the week,” explained the agency case worker. Three days later, I sat in front of my computer, trembling and crying. We had viewed other children’s profiles, but I knew this one was different before I even opened the email, without knowing a single detail about this child. Opening the profile, I saw my son born of a different womb but divinely implanted in my heart.
A medical analysis was part of my son’s profile. To declare our intention to adopt him, we had to send a letter of intent to China, along with a medical care plan for his condition. I sent the analysis to a local pediatric surgeon. She reviewed his case over the weekend and called us back on Monday to explain the medical care he would probably need: one, maybe two operations. There was no way of knowing the severity of his condition or of his scarring disorder until after we had him home under the surgeon’s care. We now know that he will need continued monitoring and surgical correction. Would we adopt him had we known what we were facing? Absolutely. He’s our son.
To answer my son’s questions: “God allowed these problems to bring us together. He chose you because He knew we needed you in our family. He knew that we would love you, no matter what. God used you to demonstrate the depth of His unconditional love for us.”
Five years and multiple hospital visits later, I thank God for my son and for his birth mother who let him go so he could find a family to help him.
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