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Filling out a medical checklist for SN

September 8, 2009

As we get closer and closer to being DTC, we enter the season of waiting on a referral or a match from the shared list of SN waiting children.  It’s so incredibly hard because you know, behind every SN you mark there is a child or multiple children.  There are so many children with so many different medical needs, in all kinds of varying degrees that it’s so hard to say “No I don’t want to adopt a child with that need and parent them.”

Why?  Because you know, that if that child was already in your life, or joining your life through biological birth then OF COURSE you would parent that child.  You would adjust your lifestyle, and just do it.  Well, at least we would.

But in adoption you have the ability to CHOOSE which medical need your child could have.  You have to CHOOSE which of the medical needs you are willing to parent.  I find it difficult to make those decisions, and I weigh them in terms of how will that medical need affect our lives.  What way would that need cause us to change our lifestyles?  Are we willing to make that change?

See, there are people out there in the adoption world who believe that you should never make a decision to not parent a child because of various aspects to different special needs like a shortened lifespan, or severe developmental delays, or multiple surgeries, or the knowledge that your child may never be able to talk with you, or the knowledge that your child may never leave the house as an independent adult.  But I believe that only each individual family knows what is best for them. I often feel like it is a contest in the SN adoption world on who is the most willing to accept anything, and that they wish to be thought of as the “best” parent ever because they are  the most willing to accept anything.  It seems almost like a contest to see who can “win” at being the most saintly or something.

I will admit, I’m not willing to knowingly take on certain things because quite frankly either I have knowledge about a portion of it and I know what my own limits are with my life as it currently is OR I know someone who has gone through that special need and it quite frankly scares me to death to think of myself going through it.

For example, I know with CL/CP that I could easily handle the dental and orthodontics.  I could handle the surgeries, but honestly, multiple surgeries in a year or over the course of  few years would be HARD.  I’m not a good “hospital” kind of person.  I don’t do illnesses well when my kids are sick.  It’s just not something I’m a good Mommy for.  However, I’ve done speech therapy for a child already.  I know what the time commitment is for speech therapy.  CL/CP has intensive speech therapy.  If we were to have a child with this SN, homeschooling our boys would have to be reconsidered.  Homeschooling takes so much time, speech therapy takes a lot of time.  One would have to give, and quite frankly homeschooling would lose out.  Am I WILLING to stop homeschooling for a child?  Or at least stop it for a few years?

Heart defects – minor ones I know we can handle.  Major ones with multiple heart surgeries, and yes with shortened life spans?  Probably not.  Again, it’s the hospital thing.  It’s also the compromised immune system aspect.  That portion of it would trigger an anxiety in me, the germ-o-phobic in me would rise to the forefront and my entire family would suffer because of it.  I’ve been there to a lesser degree, and I know the potential of how I would react.  I also have to evaluate how I would handle the isolation portion of what a severe heart defect would require of my family.  My children would come to resent a child for this because of how I would react and the bubble I would place our family in.  I can NOT knowingly take this on for our family because it’s not fair to existing children and it’s not fair to any child we adopt to start them off with the possibility of their siblings getting irritated with the restrictions Mom places on them because of their new sibling.

Deafness is something I am totally okay with, but others in my family are not so much.  I have been around people with hearing loss, and to me it’s a non-issue.  Again, though, there is speech therapy and special classes which would require us possibly halting homeschooling.  However, if the entire family is not on board with all of this then can I knowingly push for it?  No.

Vision loss?  Possible blindness?  What about severe cerebral palsy?  Or oh so many more different diagnoses that I have seen on the list.  A list that is 30 pages long, and approximately 400 children are on it.

I have a friend whose child is/was apraxic.  I saw, firsthand through the internet, how much therapy and work that has involved.  I’ve seen friends with children who have seizures, and degenerative neurological disorders.  I have seen families face the idea of their children dying before they are 18, some before they turn 13 because of a disorder they have diagnosed at the age of 2.  I have chosen to NOT willingly and knowingly subject my family to that..  If it comes about that it is something we will have to deal with, then so be it.  We will.  Our faith is strong enough to carry us through.

Like our friends who traveled with us, they were prepared for one SN and it ended up being something totally different.  Something they had not considered, but that is what ended up being good for their family.   We are aware of that possibility, and we are okay with that.  We have to be to navigate the realm of international adoption.  If our future daughter comes to us with something that we had never considered, of course we will love her.  If it is something we find in China that we know we are NOT prepared to handle, something that was purposefully hidden from us?  I am not sure at all what we would do.  Not sure at all and I pray I never ever have to find out.

We are told in scriptures to love one another.  Showing love to one another is accepting what families choose for themselves in limiting their medical checklists.  We can do that by always being positive to them, and being willing to support them no matter what…even if they are only willing to go NSN.  They have a reason for that, we do not know that reason, and the only thing we can do is support each family in their own decisions because when a family makes those kinds of decisions for themselves they are doing something GREAT for their future child…they are not jumping into something knowingly that will cause stress on their marriage and in their lives that could potentially lead to issues later on.  They are making that first crucial step in making sure that the placement of that child in their lives will be a success.  Because what if, by our words, we encourage them to do something like accept the placement of a child who will be such a drain on their financial, emotional, and physical stores that their entire family (including the children already in place) would all suffer.  That perhaps, all the children in the family would lose out on the kind of family they all deserve.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2009 7:10 am

    I so wish everyone could read this. Truly excellent, Snapshot.

  2. September 8, 2009 7:57 am

    VERY well stated!! I too wish more people could read this!

  3. September 8, 2009 10:06 pm

    You really lay out your heart, and I thank you for letting me in.

  4. September 9, 2009 7:46 am

    umm….ok, where have I been? I didn’t even realize you guys were adopting again!! Or maybe I did and I have CRS? Who the heck cares – congrats!!!!! My heart wants to adopt again also but my DH says no way.

    Great post!!


  5. September 10, 2009 10:10 am

    You are right on with this. It worries me when people fall in love with a face before they truly understand what a child’s special need is and how it will impact their lives. It also concerns me when people check many special needs simply because they don’t want to wait for a long time. We must always prayerfully concider how well we are equipped to parent a child before we take a step toward adoption.

  6. roomforatleastonemore permalink
    September 10, 2009 2:45 pm

    Boy, I missed the big news too! CONGRATS!!! Hope the paper chase is going well!

    Your post is very thought-provoking. I guess I don’t see the point about people being saintly though? I really have never felt or seen that in the SN adoption world? Hmmmm. Have to think on that one, because I just don’t see it.

    Let me ask you something: what if you found your child though and they did have a need you at first had felt unprepared to parent? Then what? Do you just walk away b/c you can’t handle it? How can it be different for an adopted child if we see them as the same?

    I know for me I wish our little girl was healthy, but she is not and really probably never will be. I know for certain too that when we filled out our checklist, a child w/ her needs was far from what we imagined, but when we got the call we knew she was ours. So we stepped out in faith. Are we saintly for doing that? I mean, for bringing our daughter home, who happens to be sick and fits a lot of the criteria you mentioned in that paragraph. I think we have to be careful both ways: to not judge those who do choose to go that route. That does NOT make us saintly, just means that is our path.

    We are no different than anyone else that is for sure. It is a different normal but in reality, it has not been that big of an adjustment. The hospital is hard, but not such a big deal really.

    Just my thoughts. I guess it all comes down to perspective.

  7. September 17, 2009 2:00 pm

    I have several friends who have had VACTERL kids like Kyleigh (biologically) and then turned around and adopted a child with the same needs. I, honestly, would take another child with IA, VACTERLS etc. I have already btdt… and got the mommy medical degree to prove it… why not help out a child who otherwise may not get the care they need?

    As far as taking on a child with needs other than the ones I am familiar with… I don’t think we could do that simply because Kyleigh is SO high maintenance and we would need to learn everything all over again for a new set of issues.

    My heart smiles on families who intentionally adopt a SN child!!!

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