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Treasures in Adopting a Child With a Disability

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I feel compelled to answer a question (publicly) that I have been asked, in different ways, several times recently:

“Will adopting kids with disabilities ruin your life?”


It can ruin the perfect little dream of a life you had when you were 10. It can ruin your expectations of developmental milestones. It can ruin plenty of play dates, family outings and date nights. It can ruin your ability to spontaneously and easily go out and about. It can even ruin a few friendships. It can destroy your ability to sleep and to eat a peaceful meal. It can ruin your ability to look “the other way” again. It can absolutely ruin your life as you know it.

A famous poet, Rumi, once said “Where there is ruin, there is a hope for treasure.”

You see, when adopting a little one with disabilities, your life changes directions. It can be quite the journey, and like I said, it might not be the one you envisioned as a child. It can be a life full of unforeseen challenges that make you think outside the box, day in and day out. A life where your love and supports help a child exceed every expectation he was ever given, especially that one where the doctors all told you he wouldn’t live through the first year and now he’s thriving at 5. You learn to celebrate small successes and appreciate the little things in life. You’ll have a new perspective — through his or her eyes — and it will make you realize the blessings found in challenges. Your play dates could consist of spontaneous run-ins at the hospital where you get the biggest hug from a mom who you know “gets it.” Family outings might require extra planning but they’ll be the most precious time ever spent. Your circle of friends might become incredibly small in your “real life” as it’s so difficult to walk beside you on this winding path, but you’ll find camaraderie through social media where there are people who truly understand your wonderful self. And oh, you’ll treasure the people who are brave enough to stick around. You learn to grab a few bites to eat in between changing g-tubes, setting machines and making sure your little guy isn’t running the dog over with his new power chair. You sleep when you can and you realize you were stronger than you ever thought you could be. And even when you’ve endured a parent’s greatest nightmare, you move forward through the strength in the blessings gifted to you on the journey.

Your life, as you know it, can be ruined. And you’ll be a better person for it. You’ll feel like your life has meaning that you needed and never even knew existed.

While November is National Adoption Awareness month, it is also is a month of thanks. How perfect is that? I am forever blessed by this crew and I will always be grateful this journey was ours to take. If adoption isn’t for you, please consider supporting it in some way. Donate your time to kids, sponsor a family for the holidays, host, help fundraise… do whatever you can to support the 415,000+ kids who are currently in the “system” in the US and the 107,000+ that are awaiting forever families.

Be open-minded, aware, giving, loving and grateful this season and always.

Truly… where there is ruin, there is an incredible treasure to be found.

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Originally published: November 1, 2017
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