“Special needs?” What does that even mean? According the very credible source of Wikipedia (?) the term, “special needs” describes individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological. Five years ago, my journey as a “special needs” mama began.
God called our family to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. I had a decent understanding of what an individual with Down Syndrome was capable of as I had worked with adults with Down Syndrome, helping them live independent lives, while I was in college. However, I devoured every book I could on what a Down Syndrome diagnosis meant and what kinds of things I could expect.
In July of 2017, my three-year-old son with Down Syndrome was placed in my arms from the orphanage liaison and I was given a bag of formula and the clothes on his back with no explanation of what to expect of his behaviors. My husband and I went back to our hotel room with a brand new three-year-old that couldn’t bear weight on his legs, could hardly sit up without falling over, could speak no words, and ate bottles with absolutely NO solid foods. WHAAATTT? By the time, my other children were three they were eating everything in sight, running around like crazy, and talking up a storm. I knew things with this son would be different, but I’m not sure I expected what we received. That was my first issue…I had expectations! There was absolutely no book that would have prepared me for the beautiful child that was placed in my hands. Though he wasn’t what I expected, he we so much more. Though he couldn’t eat solid foods, his smile melted my heart. Though he couldn’t bear weight on his legs he could do a happy dance that made his entire body move and groove. Though he couldn’t speak to me, he could caress my face and hug me. This child was perfect…He was perfectly mine, a gift from God.
When we returned home from China the chaos began. My son was checked over from head to toe. I had to keep a record of his appointments and in the first two months of being home…60 days, he had 37 different appointments!!! THIRTY-SEVEN! This didn’t include PT, OT, or Speech which started the third month we got home. I’d like to tell you that those appointments have slowed down, but they haven’t…He currently goes to therapy four times a week, thankfully, his health is good so we don’t have many “medical” appointments anymore. But, it’s still a lot! This mom runs and runs!
As his mom, there are many times that my heart hurts for him, but if he could speak, I know he would tell me, “Mommy, I’m just fine, don’t worry about me!” He can now run with all his classmates, and he has core strength like you wouldn’t believe…I think he is stronger than his mom. However, he still cannot eat solid foods and words are still difficult for him to put together, but he sure tries…he talks my ears off, and I know one day all the sounds will make sense. See, when you’re a special needs mama, the word hope takes a new meaning…we NEVER GIVE UP!
My best friend has currently birthed four babies, one whom went back to God at birth, one that is a rebel without a cause, and two that have special needs. I am so thankful that I have her in my life because she truly gets me, without ever having to say it. As a mom, appointment after appointment I feel defeated. Another appointment where he wouldn’t try food, he wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t cooperate, he through his face mask in the toilet, he made a sad choice…I can often feel exhausted, but I know my bestie is doing it right along by my side. Our support system is our saving grace, because you know what, special needs mommin…is hard, but we’re NOT alone and we will NEVER give up.
I’m a better mom, friend, and human because of my special needs kiddo…Thank you God for choosing me to be a special needs mom!