If you've followed along this week then you know we're hearing from adoptive mama's who have adopted children with special needs. Their stories have been beautiful and scary, because, what if we feel the calling to adopt a child with a disability? Could we do it? Could our lives handle it? These are normal questions. It's okay to wonder and think through all the different scenarios of bringing a child with a specific need into our lives. But what if, at the end of all the questions and wondering...we still feel called? This post is from someone so near and dear to our hearts...and existence. Our first ever adoption story was of sweet little Archie, who you might have guessed is our namesake. You can read more about his adoption here. But guess what?! Archie is getting a new little sister who is "just like me!" and we couldn't be more excited for the sweet Eicher family!
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Not a day goes by that I don't stop and look at my son in complete awe.
The fact that through so many twists of fate, months of fighting, intense heartache, and traveling across the world, he became our son...
Four years later it still blows me away. Archie was seven when he joined our family. He grew up in an orphanage in Bulgaria. The same orphanage from the time he was born, until the day he walked out those doors and came home to us. Archie also happens to have Down syndrome.
Being his mom has changed me in so many ways. I've grown and evolved. I've been challenged and forced to be stronger and more patient than I ever dreamed I would have to be. Archie is a very challenging child to parent. I can't count the number of times I have been out with my kids, and looked around at other moms and been completely envious. I think, "that must be nice." Not having to be on high alert. No concern about your eleven year old walking safely through a parking lot. No fear of a major public meltdown.
I will never pretend that being Archie's mom is easy.
And some would question why anyone would choose that life. Of course we can all feel compassion for the orphan. Especially the special needs orphan. Hearing about their lives and even worse their ultimate fates, is unfathomable and can shake one to their core. But logically it seems that adopting a child with special needs would simply be a burden. A lifelong commitment not worth taking on.
I understand those thoughts and that mindset. But even on our hardest days. On the days that I feel like I'm hanging on by a tiny thread, like I'm completely failing him. Even on the days when he frustrates me to the point of tears- he is WORTH it.
Beyond worth it.
This past March I found myself on a plane heading back to Bulgaria. Just me, my six year old daughter and one year old son. And as I paced the aisles with a crying baby midway through a ten hour flight, I had an intense feeling of TURN THIS THING AROUND AND LET ME OFF.
I didn't want to do it.
It was too much.
But we made it through the grueling, uncomfortable flights. We lived for almost two weeks on practically no sleep, in unknown towns, where finding people we could properly communicate with was impossible...
And our daughter will be home this Fall.
She's eleven and has Down syndrome, "just like me!" as Archie reminds us. And she is worth every hardship on our journey to get to her. And she is worth every challenge she is sure to bring to me and our family.
Adopting a child with special needs is scary. The unknowns. The knowns. The fears can be overwhelming and I guarantee there will be more times when I feel like screaming "turn this thing around and let me off!" But at the end of the day, although it's hard, my kids are so beyond worth it. The joy, the laughter, the life that adoption has brought to our family is irreplaceable.