The first question most people ask when we started our special needs adoption journey with our two children with Down syndrome is “Why would you adopt kids with such difficult challenges?”
We don’t have a saintly answer to give. The truth is when we learned we couldn’t have children biologically, we decided to pursue adoption. When a girl with Down syndrome became available, we said no.
The gift of special needs adoption
The opportunity continued to present itself, but the thought of adopting her terrified us. And we wondered why anyone would take on all those developmental delays and health challenges.
Then one day I felt as though God was giving me a vision. In it He was presenting me with a beautifully wrapped package. I unwrapped it and said, “This isn’t what I wanted.”
The journey of special needs adoption
After sharing the vision with Josh, we decided to adopt this girl. It was one of the scariest and best yes decisions we’ve made.
Today our family journey includes three beautiful children who have been adopted. Two have Down syndrome. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are some lessons we’ve learned, which I hope will help as you consider adopting a child with Down syndrome or other special needs.
The adoption journey is special and unique
As Josh and I prepared for parenthood, I read and studied everything I could get my hands on. And I had to adjust my parenting mentality, especially in the comparison department.
Most babies will begin walking sometime between 9 and 15 months. Macyn didn’t walk until she was 3.
I had to put the books away and stop comparing her to her peers. I even had to do the same in the Down syndrome community. Seeing another child with Down syndrome who was doing something Macyn wasn’t doing, I’d think, How do I fix my kid? How do I make my kid more like this kid? When I gave in to comparisons, I lost my joy over who Macyn is as a gift from God. I had forgotten that every person is uniquely made in His image and for His purposes.
When I’m tempted to compare, I now look at Macyn and say, “She’s amazing exactly as she is—not if she walks earlier, not if she’s able to read at a higher level, not if she’s able to run as fast as another kid. Who she is as she is right now is incredible.”
Parental journey through special needs adoption
I had my hands full with two children when the opportunity came for us to adopt another baby with special needs. We immediately said yes. We got to go to the hospital the day our son, August, was born, and he came home the next day.
Having two children with Down syndrome was a scary step. Some days it felt as though I were lifting my foot up, not knowing where it would fall. But it’s been a good decision.
Is it messy? Of course. Is it hard? Yes. But in our willingness to take steps into those hard and messy spaces, we get to know God in all His goodness. For Josh and me, our understanding
of humanity, our understanding of God and our understanding of His love for humanity have changed drastically because we get to live with our kids. •
Continue the journey
Raising a Child with Down Syndrome
© 2021 by Focus on the Family. This article first appeared as “Saying Yes to God’s Nudge” in the April/May 2021 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. All rights reserved.