Adoption & The Diagnosis of Autism & Cerebral Palsy
It’s April, which is Autism Awareness Month. My family is personally affected by Autism, as my oldest child, who was adopted as an infant from Ethiopia in 2012, has a diagnosis of Autism as well as a few other diagnoses! When we started our adoption process, my husband and I were first-time parents who were interested in a “healthy placement.” Although we saw God opening our hearts to more things during our waiting time, when we were matched with our son, we were told he was a “healthy child.” When we finally had our first meeting with our son, he was four months old, and we had no idea what typical child development looked like! When our son came home at seven months old, we were advised to look into early intervention to help with some of the developmental delays he was expressing.
Fast forward a little bit, we saw that our son had to work harder for every little milestone. He also has cerebral palsy, which affects his brain’s capacity for motor movement. Our son is a miracle-man who learned to walk at five years old and has seen the inside of doctor’s offices and therapy rooms more than anyone should. As a family of five now, we have learned to accommodate and anticipate needs before we leave the house. Some of the most emotional moments of my life have been in doctor’s offices and IEP meetings!
My son is eleven years old now and is truly a delight to those who know him. He is the funniest child and offers the most pure affection and snuggles. He wants to be included and loves to give high-fives. When asked about his strengths at our recent IEP meeting, I had a long list, and they all agreed that he is such a fun person to have in the community.
Learning To Lean On The Lord
Special needs can also be very draining and difficult. Being a parent to a child who just has higher needs can be tense and sad. My husband and I have learned to lean on each other and lean on the Lord. Some of our darkest seasons of our faith have come through trials of our son- from sleep disorders to injuries that he’s had from cerebral-palsy related accidents. As parents, we would do anything to help him and wish that life could be a little easier for him and his siblings.
We often recall John 9, in which Jesus heals the man born blind. The disciples asked why the man was born blind, was it a result of the man’s sin or his parents? And Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” I can say that my son’s life has been evidence of God’s works being displayed. Every little milestone and miracle have been hard-won, and we have seen God’s faithfulness on repeat in his eleven-year-old life.
The Holy Spirit’s Provision & Care For Our Family
As hopeful adoptive parents, my husband and I longed to be parents, but we had no idea of the highs and lows that were ahead of us. If you would have given us a vision for the future and shown us only the “low point reel” of medical issues, meltdowns, and accommodations, we probably would have said, “no thanks! I want an easy child!” But as parents who have walked through the highs and lows of Autism, I can say I am so grateful for how my character has been changed through this. I have learned more about God’s character and faithfulness, more about the Holy Spirit’s provision for my weakness, and more about how God cares and sees me and my family through Autism. I would not want to go back to the version of myself in 2012 who would have missed out on so much.
Our family has gained so much because of my child’s diagnosis. We have a beautiful community of professionals who have been a part of our life because of it. We have a community of friends who are co-laborers through this parenting journey who have taught us so much and encouraged us when we are feeling low. We have seen God’s gift of friendship and care in a way that we would have missed if it had been “a little easier.”
So if you are starting out in the adoption journey and you have no idea what is ahead- and perhaps you are saying “yes! But make it easy!” I want to say that whatever God has in store – know that this is promised: God’s works will be displayed no matter what. And if Autism or any kind of disability or hardship are involved, know that they are a gift to you and your family, even on the days that it might not feel like it. We serve a generous and loving God who is making all things new. One day in Heaven, all of the hard things of Earth will wash away, and we will see the glory and purpose of the things on this fallen Earth.
***We provide the following adoption services here at Christian Adoption Consultants: Embryo Adoption, Domestic Adoption & International Adoption. If you are interested in learning more about the programs we offer, you can request an informational packet here, as well as set up a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our team members and join our free adoption community! We look forward to hearing from you!***