The non-Grief of Special Needs Adoption

April 5, 2013 § 5 Comments


We don’t fit in. Ben and I are special needs parents by choice. It wasn’t forced upon us by birth, sickness, or congenital abnormality. We don’t fit the stereotype. From reading many stories and knowing people personally who were surprised to learn of their child’s disability, there is a process of grief and coming to terms with their child’s disability.

Many people will ask me if parenting Nathaniel is “hard” or if I grieve his disability.
There are some very challenging moments but it’s not hard or sad to me that he has hydrocephalus and is developmentally delayed. It is challenging at times such as this morning when he went around throwing things around the entire house 5 minutes before we had to leave for school. But I digress. Have I mentioned that we are developmentally in the “Terrific” Twos?

We knew about his disability long before we chose to adopt him and were prepared for what that looked like. Nathaniel is the sweetest and most wonderful part of our lives. His entry into our family changed us like nothing else. He made me a mother and he will always be my first boy.

What I do grieve is the infertility, the chronic pain, and the loss of sharing the experience of child birth with other women. It is a different grief but it is still a grief.

Before coming to Zambia and meeting our friends here, the only other people I had known to adopt kids with special needs were homosexual couples. That is a pretty amazing fact when you consider how the evangelical church tends to treat children with special needs. More on that in another post, though.

Our closest friends here have also adopted kids with special needs and/or experienced infertility. It has made a wonderful community for Ben and I as adoptive parents.

All that to say, it will be interesting to see how to navigate integrating into our church and community back in the States. More info about our return to Seattle coming soon!

Any advice for community integration from other special needs adoptive parents?


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§ 5 Responses to The non-Grief of Special Needs Adoption

  • Mike Piehler says:

    Again, I love how transparently you share, Laura! It’s wonderful to get a glimpse into your family’s life.

  • You hit the nail on the head. Part of the joy of raising adopted kiddos with disabilities is that there is no guilt for having CAUSED that disability. It is amazing how that one thing can make all the difference in the world.

  • Being the mom of special needs kids both ways (adoption and by birth) can say they *are* completely different experiences. We adopted several kids with special needs. Even when they were diagnosed years after we adopted them, we “expected” some issues from these kids due to their prenatal exposure.

    When my biological son was born and declared “perfect” then slowly got sicker and sicker and sicker…and was finally diagnosed with a heart defect, we did grieve. We grieved the things he will never be able to do. Not because he is our biological son, but because they were so unexpected…

  • I’m really interested about what you have to say about the church and special needs children. Love your posts, Laura.

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