We're continuing the week of special needs adoption with a beautiful testimony from Casey Chappell. Not all stories of how or why families choose to adopt a child with special needs are the same. Our hope is that through these different and unique stories, you might catch a glimpse of your own heart and see that God uses normal people to love His children :)
* * *
I was at a friends wedding ceremony and I was mortified. My date was rocking and moaning next to me for no reason other than he felt like it. When I asked him to stop he laid out his stocky 17 year old body full length on the church pew and pretended to go to sleep. Which at that point was fine with me. Then when we got to the reception and I was thankful he seemed to enjoy the cake and punch until I realized that he was stashing 10-15 cups of punch behind a door in the room and wouldn’t move out of the way for people to come in and out as they needed to. I cried all the way home and my buddy didn’t like that one bit. He apologized for not listening to me and for making me cry. That was my one of my first experiences with someone who had Down syndrome.
My husband and I had an in-home job of caring for Chase while his parents worked two busy jobs. We were newlyweds newly experienced with special needs. We had talked about doing ministry with kids with down syndrome since we had started dating but soon realized that with this situation we had jumped into the deep end of the special needs pool and we were drowning. So we moved and got new jobs. Now, 10 years later, looking back at our time spent with Chase, I’m so thankful we had those experiences with him. We saw the ability he had to learn and grow and develop and we saw how easy it was to fall in love with him as a person. But at the same time we saw the toll it took on his parents, we saw that loving and loving well was an investment you needed to make not something that you could hire someone else to do for you. We saw the value of having a community around you and how important a sense of humor would be. I think I would be a much better wedding date now. ;)
Several years and several more experiences later we knew that God was calling us to adopt a child with Down syndrome. We had already adopted 4 children and knew that adoption wouldn’t be the unknown part of this journey, but becoming a special needs family would definitely have it’s fears and challenges. Someone asked us early on in the adoption process how we were qualified and equipped to raise a child with special needs and we answered and said that we weren’t, anymore than a pregnant mom would be who goes into her dr.’s appointment and finds out that something isn’t exactly right with an ultrasound scan. But we knew that God always equips who He calls and He generally uses people who might even seem unlikely to carry out such a task. Thank you bible authors for including your own stories so that we know that His calling is much more about a powerful God than a qualified people!
We barely had shared the news of our next adventure with a handful of people when we got a Facebook message about a little boy with Trisomy 21 who had just been born and needed a family. We had to act fast. God flew open the doors and in a matter of days we were on our way to Las Vegas to get our son. We didn’t even know what he looked like or if he had any medical issues he would be dealing with... we just knew he was ours.
I’ll never forget the NICU nurses huddling around wanting to see who would be the new parents of this precious Hawaiian boy. He was beautiful. He was set to spend a few weeks in the hospital but it’s as if he knew we were there to take him home so he started eating well and was ready to leave 48 hours later.
I remember the fears that were almost panic inducing on and leading up to the plane ride to Vegas, but once he was in my arms they vanished. I think many people wait for their fears to be relieved or subside to act on what they know God is calling them to do and they don’t realize that only after trust and obedience do they fully understand how perfect love is faithful to cast out fear.
I think some of the surprises we've faced as Abel's parents is finding out how easy it is to start looking at Down syndrome as strictly a medical issue and start thinking therapy and treatments and specialists are your childs greatest needs. A year into therapies we realized that we were missing out on the best parts of our son and were focusing our efforts on him becoming just like everyone else his age. So we bravely took a leap and quit all therapy. I know not everyone can do that or should do that but for us it was one of the best thing we’ve done!
We know that the years ahead will have many twists and turns and challenges, but if they are anything like the past two years they will also bring more joy and more happiness than we can imagine. Abel is the glue to our togetherness and the reminder of what life is really about.
We are currently home study ready and waiting to be matched with a little girl who will bring more of the love chromosome into our family!