Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26 - A Comment from a Dad

From an Adoptive Dad of Multiple Kids with Special Needs 

When asked about how he feels about society's vision of large adoptive families with children with special needs, one adoptive dad very frankly shared this from his heart to a group adoptive parents. The other adoptive parents appreciated his insight and validation, but felt that we aren't the only ones that needed to hear this. Written candidly, here are his thoughts:

The general population of America is mostly ignorant and oblivious to the reality of anything beyond what they have seen/experienced in their lives. While I acknowledge that having multiple adopted children is unusual, I do not worry about, nor am I offended by the general idiocy we face as a family. In my opinion, adopting multiple special needs kids will teach several lessons: 

1. Who your real friends (and family) are. Many friends and family can't handle "it". In my opinion that's their problem and if my life is too much for them to handle they can pound sand. I've got too much going on to baby them. Fish or cut bait, all I've got to say about that. Go for quality friends, not quantity. 

2. There is more to life than the McLifestyle. We have a lot of friends with two kids, three cars, big TV and a big fancy house in a neighborhood of houses that look exactly the same. Most of them are up to their eyeballs in debt. They can keep that life because self-glorification just isn't for me... (yes there is some generalization here, but not much). The reality is that special kids don't belong in the McLifestyle - and that's NOT a bad thing. 

3. Do what works for you. (And no one can tell you what that is.) I don't know why people love to give unsolicited advice. But man it's annoying when a one-child mother of a one-year old tries to act like she's "been there, done that." when it comes to our lives and our family. (The caveat to this is older grandmotherly women who raised large families - they're like the Oracle in the Matrix.) The only person who can make good judgements for what your children need is the parents - everyone else should just shut up and stand aside. 

4. "Let me know what I can do to help" = "I don't really care enough to really help, so I'm just throwing out this bone knowing that for you to call me would be to admit that I'm right about adopting all those kids being a mistake." Boy this is common isn't it folks? If a friend shows up at your door with brownies, they're golden. If they show up with a mop bucket and cleaning supplies, they're your best friend (or a maid.) 

5. Accept the fact that some folks just can't fathom what you do. They'll try to do the math, they'll try to figure out how you fit in the house, how you make the meals, how you handle the medical needs, etc. The reality is - we just do it... we don't think about the math, we don't wallow over ourselves when we deal with medical issues. One foot in front of the other every day... it just happens. 

Final caveat - I've found that it is important to surround yourself with people who understand and accept you, your family, and the special needs of your children. For us this has created an environment of stability and safety that helps our children grow and develop. We have a strong support system through church and (parts of) our family.