Monday, December 5, 2016

Because We All Know I Know How to Pick'em

There's no doubt about it. Sam and Tony have a lot of fans. And why wouldn't they? They're ADORABLE! 



And not to mention funny.


They're sensitive and affectionate.

Here is Sam with her friend, Simon, also adopted from Pleven.
She brought him one of her favorite toys and then sat in his lap for a chat. 

They're smart, talented and determined.

video


Basically, they're all around incredible little people.


What can I say? I know how to pick'em! (Grin)

But seriously, our kids are everything we could have never known they would be from first reading their files and seeing their photos.

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There's a little girl on the other side of the world, not too far from the place our two grew up, who urgently needs a family. Like Sam and Tony, she has Down Syndrome.

Also like Sam and Tony, she's a uniquely sweet, smart, loveable baby in a big kid's body. And she's been living in an institution for far too long...almost 16 years.

This little girl deserves to swim with a mommy and daddy, to feel grass between her fingers and toes and sunshine on her face. To have her own bed and her own family. To be loved, finally and forever.

The reality, though, is that within a few months, Dawn will age out. She will permanently lose her chance to be adopted. Statistics are clear that children won't live long past Dawn's age in an institution. They'll lose the light from their eyes. They will die. That's the terrible truth. I know, it's uncomfortable to hear. It's extremely uncomfortable for me to say! But, again, its the truth.

This photo was taken of Dawn several years ago.


This is Dawn now.


We're praying, praying, praying in our house for God's hand of intervention in her little life. We believe her chance has not passed. It's not too late for her. A family would have to work quickly to get to her in time, but it is possible.

And, precious Dawn is eligible to receive a $10,000 older child grant from Reece's Rainbow.

Read more about Dawn here.


For additional questions, contact childinquiry@reecesrainbow.org.


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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to parent a child with special needs? Particularly a child like Dawn, Tony or Sam- older children with Down Syndrome who've been institutionalized for many years? 

In case it should be helpful to anyone considering this type of adoption, or even considering Dawn in particular, here are a few thoughts from Chris and I on parenting our kids.

I should mention here that my incredible husband volunteered his help with this section because this is a topic very near to his heart. As a new dad to a family of kids with special needs, he has a perspective that I no longer do.

In general, what are some of the primary needs an older child with Down Syndrome would have upon joining a family?

We have found that, above all, our children need consistency, safety and security. They continually need to be reminded that we love them and that we will never leave them. We do this in a number of ways. (And trust me, we've learned this slowly, over time.) The first is by providing a consistent routine. This helps our kiddos to feel confident that their needs will be met, especially that they will never go hungry again.

We also work hard to meet this need by loving more than we discipline. Of course, we have to correct our children. We do this a lot actually, as all parents do. But, it is done quickly and calmly and followed up with large doses of encouragement and love.

Our attachment with both children is very strong, but we also consider it a work in progress. We don't take their love for granted. We spend intentional face to face time with both kids, giving hugs and kisses, singing, reading, holding them, dancing - things any parent would do with their children. But, for our children, this is medicine, or therapy, if you will. It brings healing, and strengthens our relationships.

Are kids like Dawn, Sam and Tony still capable of growing or learning new things after joining a family at such an older age?

The answer to this question is a resounding YES! To varying degrees. A lack of food, love, security and stimulation is extremely harmful to a child's brain. BUT, our kids are growing and learning daily. Neither of them will ever speak fluently (or maybe at all, in Sam's case). But both kids are excellent communicators, showing us daily that they have not yet reached their threshold for learning.

One thing our kids are absolutely capable of learning, and that they continue to learn, is appropriate boundaries and behavior. They are improving in this area all the time. The more comfortable they become in our home and family, the more responsive they become to our teaching.

Without a doubt, our kids have also learned that they are a son and daughter, and that we are their forever parents. I really and truly believe this. We have to work to maintain this, but it is there. This may not be the case with every adopted child, but it is the case with ours.

(As a side note, you should know that I took a break after that last paragraph to tend to the kids and get a few things done around the house, and in that time, Sam snuck into the bathtub fully clothed. Twice. So, there you have it.)

Do kids like Dawn, Sam and Tony need supervision during all of their waking hours?

Our kids are actually able to play independently at times. Or at least hang out independently without too much help or supervision. And each day, they both take a nap or rest time, safely in their beds. So, Chris and I do have periods of free time within our routine. You will often find Chris or I reading or doing household chores while the kids are busy doing their own thing. Especially Samantha, who has a knack for finding creative things to do around the house. You might be curious to know that at certain times of day our house is, in fact, surprisingly quiet. 

What resources are available to help me parent a child like Dawn? 

I'm sure Chris and I haven't even begun to plumb the depths of all that is available, but I can tell you that resources are many. Our kids have received physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy from a private provider as well as through the public school system. They have one on one help at school as well as teams 10 people strong each to teach and resource them. I've also received A LOT of help and support from the online adoption community as well as other special needs parents and friends who work with students with special needs in our area. Not to mention medical personnel! Oh! And, in our city, there are at least two churches who provide respite nights for families with kids with special needs. We take advantage of these every time they are offered.

I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice it to say, if you are willing to look and ask around, resources are everywhere.

What qualifies a person or couple to adopt an older child with special needs. Do I have what it takes?

I'll let Chris answer this one. His answer is short and succinct, but it says it all.

"Patience. Resiliency. Daily Dependence on God."

Chris and I are in many ways inadequate. But aren't all parents? Do any of us have all of the answers all at once?

I work at a church, so I meet new people and train new volunteers often. Whenever I speak to someone who is nervous or scared about a ministry task, I tell them this is the perfect place for them to be. I'll say, "If you were overly confident right now, that's when I'd be worried. God can best help those who know their need for him."

Patience.

Resiliency.

Daily dependence on God.

That's at least the goal.

Praying tonight that this girl will be in a family very soon. God can do that. Please help me spread the word about Dawn.

Lots of love to all of you.


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