Adopting Children with Disabilities: Celebrate Small Victories

Celebrate Small Victories by Mindi Schrock

Celebrate small victories and get the care and support you need.
Parenting adopted children with disabilities is an uphill battle. You have to celebrate the small wins and
don’t bother looking at the big picture. You’ll figure it out when you get there.
After having two difficult pregnancies with each of our biological sons, we felt called to adopt. After seven years of paperwork and
two failed adoptions, we brought home our two girls from China in August 2017.
We felt God had twins for us. After waiting a long time for this we decided to start reviewing profiles,
even if they were not biological twins. I will never forget the first day we started reviewing files with our
adoption agency director. “Let’s see…this one is born in November and that one in October of the same
year. And the same orphanage…Mindi, you got your twins!”
We had their files reviewed by our pediatrician and specialists; I highly recommend that if possible! We were open
to some disabilities, and we knew both girls had some medical conditions. We knew enough to feel somewhat prepared, but
not so much that we ran the opposite direction.
We knew Natalie’s diagnosis and knew that she’d need ongoing medical care. We had no idea, though, how debilitating
it would be for her or how difficult her treatment and ongoing care would be. We knew Brielle had a heart condition. We
also had some knowledge that with her specific type of heart condition it was very likely she would also have a certain genetic condition. We hoped she would have a heart repair and be all set, and that the genetic condition we feared wouldn’t pop up.
We had no idea the extent of their medical and developmental disabilities. It was incredibly daunting
and consuming seeking treatment for extensive disabilities. We spent months fighting to save their lives, followed by years of
ongoing quality of life treatment.

If you are adopting, or have adopted, a child with disabilities, here are some things you should know:
1. I joined a Facebook group of moms who also adopted from China with the same condition as Natalie.
They have been invaluable. If you have a child with a rare condition, you need a tribe of moms who get
it. Your pediatrician may not, and en ER doctor often doesn’t have the knowledge of something rare.
Find a children’s hospital that specializes in your child’s condition; you will not regret it. You need a team
of experts to help give your child the specialized care they need.
2. If you are considering adopting a child with disabilities, know it’s probably more complicated than you
expect and might be harder than you anticipate.
3. You need support, you need a break, and you have to take care of you or you will lose yourself. I say that not
to scare you but to emphasize the value of taking care of you so that you can best care for your children. Prioritize yourself and your marriage, I can’t say that enough! That is what will get you through. I also needed a whole lot of Jesus.
4. If you are facing a diagnosis (or yet another diagnosis), it might be harder than you expect. You might be
surprised at the amount of grief you experience.

But, you will get through this. You are stronger than you think.
This road is hard but the reward is so worth it. Depending on your child’s needs, you might literally be saving a life and providing the care they need to thrive now and for the rest of their lives.
You will be amazed as you see each breakthrough! They might be small, but oh so worth it. Like the first
time Brielle said Mama, after getting her first hearing aids at age four. Or Natalie being capable of going to the bathroom on her own after years of struggles!
It is hard but it is undoubtedly worth it. In your parenting journey, celebrate the small victories, get the care and support you need, and watch your child THRIVE!

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