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To the Stepparents of People With Special Needs

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To all the stepparents of children and adults with special needs,

There are a lot of blogs about being the parent of a child with special needs. There are very few about being the stepparent.

We weren’t the ones there when they were born. We often weren’t there for the initial diagnosis. Or the first IEP fights. We weren’t there for the first tears or sleepless nights. But we will be there for the next years and last tears. We will be there for the rest of the IEPs, hospital visits, therapy sessions and sleepless nights.

Unlike biological parents whose children are born to them, we chose this life. We chose to say “I do” and knew that saying I do comes with a special life with special kids. No — extraordinary kids.

When I married my wife, I knew I wasn’t just saying I do to the woman of my dreams, but I was also saying I do to raising my soul child. He wasn’t born to me, and I wasn’t there for his first 12 years, but I will be there for all the rest.

I’m a stepparent to a child with high special needs, and yes, I chose this. Some may wonder why when I knew it was a life of doctors, therapies, hospitals, worry and stress. A life of often sleepless nights, often unknown medical issues and sometimes outright aggression. But I say instead I said “I do” to a life with an extraordinary child who has so much joy to share with this world. A child who will teach others far more than they will ever teach him. An example of pure love. I chose to have an extraordinary life with my family and the two loves of my life. I’d gladly say I do a thousand times over to be a part of this child’s life.

This is for the stepparents out there who said “I do” without hesitation and chose this life with our kids with extraordinary needs. We don’t have the biological connection, but we have a soul connection.

And to my wife — it may have taken me some time to learn every behavior, sound and feeling, but it was just as important to me to learn this and be there. To come to every doctor appointment and lie there all those nights at the hospital. You did it alone without the support of your first spouse for 12 long years. But I chose this life with you, and I would choose it a thousand times over. When you tell me you’re sorry we don’t have a normal life or that we have a hard life, I will always take your hand and tell you I wouldn’t have it any other way because I have both of you. Of course we wish he was better, but that’s not up to us. It’s up to us to love him no matter what, and I do. I do, I do, I do. I always will.

When we’re old and gray and our life is coming to a close, you both will know the true meaning of unconditional love. And you don’t need a biological connection to have unconditional love — just a human one.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: October 17, 2015
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