What if the Baby We Plan to Adopt is Diagnosed with Down Syndrome or Other Special Needs?

by GfG on February 16, 2015 · 1 comment

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As we wait for Maybe Baby’s arrival in August, Lord willing, I imagine her cheeks.  Her strawberry tinted hair (highly likely!).  Her smile. The way she will feel in my arms.  I can hardly stand the wait.  Just like the six times I was pregnant and waiting, I think of names. I imagine how it will be to wear her in a carrier.  How it will feel to show her off to others.

{No, we don’t know the gender, but I hate him/her stuff the whole time and MH is convinced it’s a girl, so… I will use her}

I also imagine her with Down Syndrome.   And I still smile and think of how I will show her off to others.

Maybe Baby Special Needs 2 WEB

Why do I imagine that?  Well, there is a 1 in 65 chance that Maybe Baby will have Down Syndrome.  And I’m really ok with that.   All children are created fearfully and wonderfully.  I know that. And I am blessed to have not only learned that through Scripture, but through life experiences.

Someone shockingly said, “I thought you were working with an agency so you could get a perfect baby?”

Um…. wow.  No.

Firstly, that’s not who Paul and I are.  While we are not naive and we know that typical developing babies are easier to raise in most ways, we see the beauty, blessing, and bounty of special needs children too.  That would seem really obvious by our choices in vocations, friends, and community.  We have surrounded ourselves with children and adults who are different since we were in high school.  It’s who we are.

Secondly, that’s a huge lie to believe.  No one is ever promised “perfect” babies.  No one.  No parent ever really knows what kind of disability, disorder, or difference a child will have.  It’s a risk every pregnant woman takes.

Thirdly, every one of our pregnancies not only had the high likelihood of the baby having cleidocranial dysplasia.  It’s a dominant trait. The fact that we only have one of six children with the disorder still stuns doctors.

Fourthly, agencies can not guarantee “perfect babies” anymore than doctors can.  Which is zero.  Yes, you can check mark boxes that state you are not willing to consider specific special needs and yes you can check mark all of those, but an agency can’t guarantee a child will always be “perfectly developing”.

Lastly, even if that was possible (a “perfect baby”), we certainly wouldn’t have checked only that box.  That’s not who we are.  Oh, wait.  I already said that.

I guess there are adoptive parents who only want a “perfect” baby.  Just like there are some adoptive parents that want only white babies.   That’s not who we are though either.

This question wouldn’t leave my mind: if Paul and I wouldn’t be willing to adopt a child with special needs, who would?  Goodness, I mean we have been as prepared as any couple can for such an opportunity.

The weird thing is that as I considered the odds Maybe Baby has to have Down Syndrome, at first I was scared.  That lasted about a week.  And then I realized, that’s just not a huge deal.  And it’s certainly not a deal breaker.

Then I started imagining her with all kinds of other disabilities and differences.  It was a bit like I was trying them on her.  Or me.  And none of them made me cry or freaked me out.  There is one situation that scares me, but I know even that, I can handle with God’s power, grace, and love flowing from Him to me to Maybe Baby.

And it made me realize how scared people are of disabilities.  For people who haven’t been around children and adults who look, act, or respond differently than the “perfect” kind, I bet it’s scary to consider.  And yet God gives children with special needs to parents who are thrust into a pool they’ve never visited.  And they learn to swim just fine.

If you are adopting or considering, I would love for you to think outside the check mark boxes that seem “perfect”.  There are babies that are so stinkin’ loveable.  So very much worth parenting.  So very much perfect in their own way.

There are challenges in parenting and raising special needs babies.  Sure.  I won’t deny that.

But it breaks my heart that wonderful couples avoid special needs babies because they want “perfect”.  Remember, potential adoptive parents, there is no such thing as “a perfect baby”, but there is such a thing as “perfect for us”.  Don’t discount the different that the possibility of that being perfect for you and your family.

If you are a potential adoptive parent:

  • Visit special needs parent forums
  • Watch movies with kiddos who are “different”
  • Read up on some common disabilities and get a better picture of what life is really like
  • Visit summer camps for children who have disabilities so you can see how they are just kids
  • Approach parents who have kids with disabilities and ask them if they would share their joys and struggles with you.
  • Be willing to step outside your current comfort zone to see what blessings God has for you in embracing different

My twenty-five years with special needs summer camps, my eight years with deaf education, my six years of foster parenting a deaf child, and my eighteen years of being a mama tell me… prove to me that loving a baby or child with special needs is very easy.

I don’t know how to help our culture embrace different more, but I do know that if different comes via Maybe Baby, we’ll be just fine.

Actually, we won’t be fine, we’ll be awesome.

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