The Assumption About Special Needs Adoptions I Want to Clear Up


There’s a stigma to special needs adoptions, but it’s not what you may think.  The stigma belongs to the birth parents, labelled “selfish,” “heartless” or “weak.” It’s an easy assumption to make, a way to blame.

When we first got the call about our daughter, those were the thoughts that ran through my head. What kind of person could “give up” a child just because she was different, just because she wasn’t what they’d expected? It’s an opinion we’ve continued to hear time and time again from people all around us: friends, family, professionals, random acquaintances — people who want to be angry on this little girl’s behalf, people shocked and appalled that this could happen today.

“Aren’t you angry with them?” is still the most common question we get when we have the adoption conversation, and people are always taken aback by our answer.

Hate. Anger. Pity. None of these words apply.

Courage. Strength. Endless love. Grace under pressure. Those are far more accurate.

In our case, there are two people in this world who had a vision of what their lives would be and part of that vision — a huge part of it — was raising a child alongside a family, a family that would support them, who would be there physically and emotionally to help with this child, to celebrate this child, to watch this child grow into adulthood.  Then suddenly, without warning, that no longer existed for them. Have we not heard that it takes a village to raise a child? Overnight, their village disappeared. Add in scary and confusing words like, “congenital heart defect,” “Down syndrome,” “Ng tube,” “surgery,” “developmental delays.” Imagine being all alone.

Imagine the despair, the fear and the love.

Because love is always there; it doesn’t disappear. Love for this tiny human, love so strong that you want to give them everything in the world. Love so strong that you’re forced to realize for them to have everything, it means walking away. It’s a love story we’ve all heard a thousand times — to willingly break your own heart into pieces so this tiny human can have it all.

To physically remove a part of your soul, your very being and give it to another person to protect, to care for, to love — no one chooses to do that unless the love they have is absolutely pure.

We have the gift of an open adoption, a gift where we get to be a witness to this love.

Our daughter, our collective daughter, will grow up knowing and experiencing that pure love. If that isn’t giving her everything, then I don’t know what is. If that isn’t the very definition of a loving parent, then I’m at a loss for words.

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