Well, my dear friend Anita, you've done it again. You've posted something on your blog that hit me hard. Really hard. Like a kick in the stomach....or maybe more like a nudge in the right direction - a hard nudge, but with the best of intentions.
The other day Anita posted about a recent conversation she had had with a friend of hers about adopting special needs children. Anita encourages families to consider special needs children and help to provide them loving homes. She encourages families to provide homes for special needs kids...and if you don't feel that is right for you, then she encourages that you find a way to support others who are led to provide homes for these kids. She is so right!
Special needs kids are special kids. They are the kids who are in the most need for finding a loving family who will help them get the medical care that they need and who will provide them with the love and support they need to live happy, healthy lives.
Children are classified as "special needs" for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes the need is relatively minor, sometimes it is major. Special needs kids could have a variety of medical issues including albinism, cleft lip and palate, missing/deformed limbs, facial deformities, hepatitis, TB, HIV, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, down syndrome, and lots of other issues. Some of these needs require surgeries, some require daily medications for life. Some will mean that the child might be sick for long periods of time and will need one-on-one care. Some will mean that the child has full potential to live a happy, healthy life but will live with a social stigma that the family will have to live with. In some countries these children are totally forgotten. It is assumed that they would not be wanted by anyone and they are left to die. Sometimes these kids have to live their lives in an orphanage. Often orphanages are financially strapped and the children cannot receive the medical care they need. So they die far earlier than their special needs counterparts in other, richer countries. Should geography determine who should live and who should die? Are special needs children not able to be productive members of our society? Of course not. Of course special needs children deserve homes. They deserve a chance at life. They deserve to have loving families and the medical care they need. After all, these children didn't choose their "need"...
How can we help children with special needs? What if we have a heart for kids with special needs, but don't really think that we can provide a home for a special needs child? Perhaps we could sponsor a child in an orphanage. Lots of adoption agencies have sponsorship programs where you can sponsor a child, even if you have no plans to ever adopt that child, or any other. Locate an adoption agency that works in the country of your choice and ask about this option.
Maybe you know of a family who has special needs children, or who is planning to adopt a special needs child. Find something you can offer this family, and offer it. Tell them you have a heart for special needs children and that you want to help them in some way. Maybe it will be providing them with a financial gift to help pay for their adoption, or to help with medical expenses. Maybe it will be offering to cook a meal for them once a week. Maybe it will be in offering the parents a date night where you babysit.
Maybe there is a particular special need that you are called to help for one reason or another. Locate a support group for people affected with this special need, or a research group that is helping to find a cure or a treatment for this special need and find a way to help them through donations.
Maybe you could plan a trip to visit an orphanage. Bring toys and games for the kids to play with. Plan a mission trip where you bring orphanage donations, or do some much-needed work for the orphange while you are there; painting, building bunk beds, etc.
All of these things are needed. Finding a way to help support those who need the support most is so valuable. And perhaps in the end, you will find that you gain just as much from the experience as the one who benefited from your help.
For those of you who think you might be able to consider providing a home for a special needs child, sometimes the thought of it is SCARY. There are so many unknowns. There are going to be all kinds of challenges. This is something that I have been thinking about recently. We just got a questionnaire from our adoption agency asking us to check those special needs we could consider or could not consider. How do you know what you can handle? If our birth children were born with a particular special need would we decide we couldn't handle it and give up? Of course not - we'd find a way to deal with it. But, would we choose it? Tough stuff....
In the end, I guess it will come down to what kids we are "called" to provide a home to. Somehow in the end we'll "know" which kids are meant to be ours. And if they have special needs, then so be it.
Here is the statement that Anita posted on her blog that hit me so hard (and it wasn't just because she had it highlighted):
He doesn't call the qualified, he qualifes the called.
Its a powerful statement....
Here's the link to Anita's blog, in case you want to read for yourself....