We haven’t been a part of the adoption culture for very long at all. But, before we even began, I knew what “the question” was. I knew it was coming, and I knew we would have to give an answer to it.
Would you be willing to consider adopting a child with special needs?
I have wrestled with this question for months now. Even after answering it, I still wrestle. If I thought feeling good about choosing adoption and giving a hopeless child a family was going to be sustained through this process, but I was so wrong. It’s normal for parents to want their child to be healthy. You hear people say it all the time during pregnancy- “Oh, as long as he or she is healthy, that’s all that matters.” Well, for a majority of the orphans up for adoption, this is not their reality. They couldn’t choose to be healthy at birth. And for this very reason, many of them are without a family. For years. For a lifetime. And who am I to say “no” to them? I hadn’t known guilt until I was faced with this decision. I can’t bear the thought of children existing in orphanages around the world, seeing other children find homes, and thinking, “Why not me?” But I have had to, because I very well could be considered an accessory to their pain and loneliness.
Of course, there are some excuses I could give for saying “no” to adopting a child with major medical needs. We don’t own our home and could not make any alterations to it to accommodate a severely disabled child. We can’t afford any medical bills that insurance would not cover. But that’s just what those are: excuses. I want to adopt a healthy child because I don’t want the burdens that would come with a severely disabled one. I don’t want the doctor’s visits, bills, hospital stays, special care, delayed development… I don’t want it.
If this adoption process has taught me anything thus far, it’s how selfish I am. Really. It has taught me that even in an attempt to do something good, I still fall incredibly short. As much as I want to love, my love is conditional. That was proven when I answered “no” to “the question.” I am so human. Even in my desire to love, I have limitations. There has never been a clearer mirror in which I’ve seen my ugly heart than right here and now in this adoption process.
But I thank God he is not done with me. And I praise him that he loves unconditionally. And not only me, but those rejected orphans around the world: he loves them in spite of people like me who choose not to.
Some of you may be thinking, “Beth, you’re being too hard on yourself.” Well, I’m not. But I’m trying to be honest. We have answered “the question,” and for now it seems best for our family. We did choose to be open to looking at children who are mildly to moderately disabled. The term “special needs” in the adoption world is actually very broad, and there are many conditions we would be able to handle that condemn a child to this label. However, I want to be open- I want God’s will to be worked through our family. And if he changes our hearts, we can always answer “the question” differently.
“God demonstrates his love for us in this: yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“Being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will be perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6