with special needs

Now that we've been home with Judah for just over 5 weeks, I've had some time to realize a thing, or two...

When we switched our China application from a healthy adoption to the waiting children list, some minor anxieties accompanied that switch.  However because we were open to a variety of special needs, we really had no idea what to expect, so the anxieties were initially minimal. 

Our agency, from the beginning, seemed fairly certain that we would be matched with an infant boy with cleft lip/cleft palate -- simply because that is one of the more common needs.  So I researched cl/cp, but much of the info I found seemed so vague.  I guess that's because cl/cp varies dramatically from one child to the next.  It's not a this-is-what's-wrong-and-this-is-how-you-fix-it birth defect.  Yes - some children's clefts are that straight-forward, but, most are not!


When we were matched with Judah in July...and I saw his sweet face...and his sweet cleft...I began to wonder what this would mean for our family.  What would it be like?  Parenting a child that looks different...talks different  -- a child that needs multiple surgeries, and possibly years of speech therapy.  Would his needs affect my love toward him?  Would his needs be an inconvenience?  Would his birth defects be embarrassing?

Yes.  Let's be real. Those questions crossed my mind.  No. I wasn't expecting the answers to be yes -- but I still couldn't help but wonder what would it be like.

I'm sure most families contemplating a special needs adoption ask themselves those same questions.

Yet, five weeks post- Judah's placement I can answer those questions with a resounding NO!  From the first moment Judah was in our arms, both his cleft lip and palate faded into the background.  It's not that we didn't see his clefts -- we did!  We even did a little poking around to examine to extent of his clefts.  But his clefts were not, and still are not, a distraction. We have no aversion to his sweet little mouth, or to the oatmeal that he sneezes out of his nose every morning!

The way he was born has actually endeared him to me! 
Wow!  Who expected that! ?

And with his lip surgery approaching in March, I now have a new anxiety!  My sweet boy won't look the same -- oh, how I love his little mouth just the way it is!  I love when he tries to give me a kiss, and only his bottom lip puckers out (because his top lip doesn't work quite right).  I love the oatmeal out the nose!!  Never embarrassed by it!!  Love his two crazy front teeth -- the hope of hiding them behind a new and improved lip never crosses my mind!! 

Everything about him couldn't feel more normal, or more perfect, to me!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures- James 1:17-18


Sandra said...

You have put my own thoughts into a beautifully written post as we wait on a referral for a special needs daugter from China!

Joe & Sarah McDaniel said...

Thanks for the post, Alisa!

Rachel said...

Alisa - your posts describes our experience with Mia's adoption exactly. She also had unrepaired cleft lip and palate. It was large, but it was as if we barely noticed it. She was so cute and adorable with her cleft especially when she smiled, and food shot out her nose when she sneezed. We couldn't imagine her without them, and felt like we would miss them too. We have lots of pictures of her before the repair and Mia loves to look at herself before - it is apart of who she is, and has made her who she is now.

Beth said...

Alisa- Thank you for posting this, it has brought back so many memories of our own son. Our son was born with Cleft Lip and Palate as well and we went through all the same emotions and I too, missed his lip when he had his surgery!

Greg and Laura said...

Great post, Alisa! Miss you guys!

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