Abundant Joy that Outweighs Every Cost: Adopting a Child with Disabilities

Written by Chelsea Jacobs

You could say that we came into adopting our precious son in an
upside-down way. Of course, our decision to adopt, as well as the process
to complete it, all happened in a way that is probably quite common: our
hearts were broken for those who had no families to love them–and since
we had a home full of love (and children), and had more love to give, we
were excited to bring another precious one into our home. We attended
adoption classes at a local church, prayed for months about the realities of
this decision, and eventually signed up with a large and well-known
adoption agency, whose international programs were well-developed. I
would say that the two years of anticipation were not any different than
anyone else’s time of waiting. We devoured books to prepare us and our
kids, we cultivated friendships with many other adoptive families, and we
prayed like crazy for our little one, wondering who he or she would be. We
had not specified gender or age or ability, and believed that God would
direct our paths in all of those ways.
But, in a sudden series of twists and turns, we found ourselves
answering a question we never expected or signed up for: Would we
consider adopting an 11-month old boy whose first year of life had been
riddled with continuous seizures, along with physical limitations that were
still unknown and undiagnosed, after being born two months prematurely, in
a tiny mountain village, in Rwanda. This precious one was so very sick,
and we were presented the information clearly and directly, with time to
consider the cost before giving an answer. I remember clearly the moment
that my husband and I hung up the phone. We looked at each other, and
within a minute, said “How could we NOT say yes?” Of course, we
continued to pray, but we had a peace cover us that is unexplainable if you
don’t know the peace of Christ. We knew nothing of what our road was
going to look like, but we knew two things: We knew the One who called us
to this road in the first place, and we knew what the road might look like for
Gabe if we said no.
You see, our family had visited the beautiful country of Rwanda
multiple times before this, and we knew the hearts of the people there, but
also the limitations of their resources. We had met children with severe
disabilities and saw the struggles they faced. So, in a way we can only
describe as an “upside-down” assurance, our entire family—including our
three daughters—felt the peace of Christ cover us as we said yes to this
tiny one, who was already named Gabriel Mugisha: “deliverer of the good
news of God’s blessing”.
We traveled as a family to complete our son’s adoption, and were
there just in time to celebrate his first birthday. I will never forget those first
days of watching my girls hold their little brother, or my husband begin to
care for his physical needs. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the physical
demands and the unknowns that lay ahead. But, at every turn, God met us
in the fear and helped us focus on the “next necessary thing”.

There isn’t enough space in one blog post to describe what life is like
now. Gabe has been home for eleven years, and each one has been a gift
that I still haven’t found words for. Yes, this road is hard. Yes, his
disabilities are great. Yes, it has required sacrifice every single day. But,
yes, we would do it ALL again. Because, yes, the blessings and the
abundant joy that he brings to our lives far outweighs anything this road
may have cost us.
Gabe has spastic cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic. He has been in
every therapy you can think of, and he requires full time care in many ways.
But, God has also healed him of seizures, protected his body from so many
complications that we have never faced, and has given him a joyful spirit
that is contagious, a sharp mind that is witty and wise, and a
compassionate heart that is kind and generous. Although there are bumps
in the road and certainly so much to consider with a special needs
adoption, I believe that there is a joy found here that isn’t found anywhere
else. In the end, we weren’t the answer to his needs, he was the answer to
ours. It’s an upside-down thing to say, but then again—our Savior said that
His entire kingdom way would be upside-down, and that life would be found
when we laid it down. What a rich and joy-filled life we have been given
with a family that only God could form!

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