Special Needs Adoption & Parenting- Podcast Interview

Special Needs Adoption & Parenting- Podcast Interview

Our Special Needs Adoption & Parenting Journey

I was about to finally share my family’s story of special needs adoption and parenting publicly.  

A couple of weeks ago, I slyly grabbed my laptop and quickly snuck up the stairs. Once on the landing of the second floor, I briskly tiptoed into my master bedroom. Locking the bedroom door behind me, I settled myself down in the middle of my walk-in closet.   Yep.  Nestled in a pile of jeans, dresses, and shirts that apparently I liked enough to try on that week, but not enough to put them back on their respective hangers, I sat.

Earlier that morning, I had dragged my teal cushioned ottoman into my closet earlier that day in preparation for that moment. Yep… the outside-the-box mother that I have become transformed the ottoman as the perfect “desk” for that Dell. And… it would fit perfectly in my closet.

Special Needs Adoption Requires Parents to Hide Sometimes

‘Lindsay, why were you hiding in your closet?’

Well, that would be because of my son. I was sitting in my closet about to share my family’s story because of my son. Relying on uninterrupted time is not a wise decision in my house. It is always a good idea to add an extra layer of sound-proofing in my house.

The Podcast Interview- Mom to Mom

Rachel Olson of the Sweetest and Toughest Podcast interviewed me that day… we discussed so much.

  • My story of infertility
  • Special Needs domestic adoption,
  • Parenting through the most volatile behaviors of an “uncontrollable child,”
  • Learning about “hidden” special needs,
  • Mom-on-mom judgement,
  • Letting go of the lies that suffocated me,
  • The isolation of special needs adoption and parenting,
  • and God’s redemptive story in this whole journey.

Adoptive Moms Parenting Children with Special Needs 

Mommas parenting children with “cognitive special needs are in every community.  Often, however, they are isolated and alone.  I know because I was and am one of them. Except now I don’t hide in shame and judgement.

This is why I am sharing. This is why I have captured EVERY valuable strategy that I WISH I had known when I was completely alone, depressed and had no hope for our family’s future.

Somewhere there is a momma hiding in her closet. Except she is not hiding for a podcast interview, she is hiding because she cannot bear to face another day living in a warzone. Share this with her. There is so much hope!

Adoption Story: Infertility to Adoption… He is Finally Here!, Part 3

Adoption Story: Infertility to Adoption… He is Finally Here!, Part 3

“This is Part 3 of a Series… If you have not already done so, please check out PART 1  and PART 2 to catch up on our story.  🙂

The sun glared in our faces as we stepped out of the car and onto the black pavement of that Florida hospital’s packed parking lot.

It was almost noon… closer to 11:30 actually as our meeting time had been set for just before twelve.  Our little boy had been born just 15 hours earlier as Ian and I were passing through Georgia on our way to the Sunshine State.

Hand in hand, Ian and I hesitantly approached the hospital’s main entrance in anticipation of meeting our son.  I remember feeling incredibly anxious and curious at the same to as to what these next hours would hold for us.

In the past year, we had been through what seemed like a nightmare.

We had lost 7 pregnancies.  One of our losses resulting in the delivery of our stillborn daughter.  The trauma of holding her lifeless body in my hands has been etched into my brain so deeply that the cavern of anguish will likely remain forever.

Then add to that the rocky terrain of the next 9 months.  I fell into a monthly ritual of staring at those annoying white sticks clad with pink positive signs.  Later, I would listlessly watch those plus signs become fainter and fainter until alas, I would bleed.  With that release of blood would come the mixture of shame, pain and anger all at once.

As we passed through the threshold of the hospital and into the sterile foyer, my emotional state began to tilt towards the side of anxiety and dread as I prepared myself for the next shoe to drop.  Ian and I took a seat on the cool leather couches of the waiting area.  We rested our weary bodies for just a few minutes before a lovely lady exited a nearby elevator.  Our nervous eyes met her cheerful and calming glance, and she eagerly approached us.

That sweet lady introduced herself as our social worker and proceeded to go over the details of our son’s delivery and his current state of health.

Soon after his birth, he began struggling to breathe, she informed us, and therefore was admitted to the NICU overnight.  She gave me a brief overview of our birth mother’s state of health and mind and then asked us if we were ready to meet our son.   We nodded our agreement and began to follow her throughout the hospital.

The sound of our shoes on the cold, hard, lifeless linoleum floor echoed through the hospital corridors.  The journey to the NICU seemed to take forever and with every step I could feel my heart pounding that much harder.  I remember taking a quick peek at Ian thinking, “Praise God that I have him.”  That man is my rock here on earth.  He always seems so chill.  If he were like me, we would be in big trouble!!  Ha!

As we turned a corner, we came upon two massive white double doors.  The social worker scanned her badge at the door and the door unlocked allowing us to pass through.  After washing our hands thoroughly and dressing in sterile robes, we were escorted into the NICU.  We were welcomed into the pediatric safety haven by the sound of various beeping noises and the sight of several small incubators encasing the most precious and vulnerable babes of this world.

Our social worker led us through a maze of vulnerable dependent little bodies to our little man’s incubator.

I remember staring at him for the first time as if I was watching myself on film.  Thinking, “Oh my word!  This is him,” I cautiously examined his fragile body.   He was crinkled up with his legs and arms pulled into his torso.   I remember contemplating the fact that I was “supposed” to feel a certain way… that I was “supposed” to instantly fall in love with him like they do in the movies.  However, that was not my reality.  I held his little body in my arms and thought to myself, ‘I am holding a stranger’s baby.’

“I am holding another woman’s baby.”

He was still her child.  He was not my child yet. He could be ripped away from me just as quickly as all seven of those pregnancies.  I was emotionally guarded.  I did not want to be… I remember wishing away the emotional distance and fear.  However, I am simply a human being.  I had to “love” this baby as best I could under the circumstances.  He was precious… no doubt about that.  He was hers though.  I needed to respect that.  I needed to respect her.

Adoption is beautiful, but it is at the same time so tragic.

In order for my family to grow here on earth, a precious and broken woman would have to say goodbye to a baby boy whom she had carried in her womb for 9 months.  That contradiction was not lost on me.

Soon after our initial meeting with that precious baby boy came our first introduction with his birth mother.  Nothing could have prepared me for what we were about to experience those next 36 hours.

Sweet Friend, do you have a story of infertility or adoption?  Do either of those topics have a place in your special needs parenting story?  I would love to know more of your story.  Comment below or feel free to email me.

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To Read Part 4 of Our Adoption Story Click Here

Free Scripture Printables to Be Framed and Encouraged By…

My Top Books for Parents Raising Kiddos with Special Needs (Each book chosen for this list was LIFE-GIVING to me during one of the darkest seasons of parenting my son).

Adoption Story: Miscarriage to Special Needs Adoption, Part 2

Adoption Story: Miscarriage to Special Needs Adoption, Part 2

In that season of grief, I memorized more Scripture than I ever have in my life.  Chunks and chunks of Scripture were embedded into the core of my mind and spirit.  This season of Scripture memory work was His preparation for the next tumultuous chapter of our story.

I received the call one evening while my family and I sat around the dinner table.

I looked down at the number, didn’t recognize it, and so I let it go straight to voicemail.  Something stuck out to me, however, because I immediately knew that the person calling was calling me about our adoption.  I just knew it instinctively.

Backing up just a bit…

After losing Ryan Adeline, my husband and I spent months and months of time seeking intervention from a reproductive endocrinologist.  We chose not to pursue more invasive forms of fertility treatment, but I did have many procedures to try to determine if there were any structural abnormalities within my female anatomy that may have caused her passing.

Ultimately, we never found anything specifically wrong with my body to give us a direction in which to go forward.  In the end, after three more pregnancies and early miscarraiges, the Lord positioned Ian and I to reach a specific conclusion at the same time.

In July of 2013, Ian and I took our two little girls away for some much needed down time in Hilton Head, South Carolina.  It was there that we both landed on adoption as the next step to grow our family.

By August of 2013, we had completed our homestudy with a local adoption resource as we did not go with a traditional adoption agency.  (The adoption process can take what seems like forever when using a conventional adoption agency and I was not in the frame of mind to wait on paperwork.)   I can be somewhat controlling.  Yet again, that’s another blog post for sure.

Fast-forward three months…

It was December 15, 2013.  We received the call while sitting around the dinner table.  Not recognizing the phone number on the screen, I tapped the red “Decline” icon on my phone screen.  However, something inside me stirred.  I glanced over at Ian, caught his eye, and then whispered to him from across the table, “Adoption.”  I knew instinctively that the mysterious phone number had to do with our adoption.  I had no idea who was calling, but something inside me knew… or hoped.

Excusing myself from the kitchen once we had finished eating dinner, I left Ian and the girls to clean up the table.  I trudged up the stairway slowly and with each step my heart began pounding harder and harder.  (No, not due to the physical exertion of climbing a flight of stairs.)  My heart was beating at an ever-increasing rate because of the enigma and wonder trying to guess who was this unidentified caller leaving me a voicemail on this random Sunday evening.  The internal dialogue I found myself dodging in my own head was getting the best of me.  Anxiety rears its ugly head even in the exciting moments of life.

ANXIETY IS BRUTAL… brutal and debilitating but that’s a whole other blog post…

Once surrounded by the four protective walls of my master bedroom, I dialed the number.

My suspisions were spot on.  A sweet friend from my Bible study group eagerly shared with me what had just transpired.

She had just finished an hour- and-a-half long phone call with her sister-in-law.  My friend proceeded to tell me that at the end of their conversation, just as they were about to say their good-byes, her SIL, an adoption attorney in Florida, mentioned that a baby boy was due in two days.  Her SIL casually asked if my friend knew anyone looking to adopt a boy.

“Lindsay!  This is YOUR son!!”  She just continued over and over with the same words.  “This is your son.”

The next 72 hours were a whirlwind.

Early the next morning, I received the phone call from my adoption attorney.  After speaking briefly about the adoption situation, they attorney sent me electronic copies of the birth mother’s medical records.  I, in turn, sent them directly over to my primary care physician for his expert opinion.

You see, my family doctor, it turned out, was an adoptive father himself.  He had a heart for adoption and had offered to help us in any way that he could as we navigated the adoption process.  In the past month, he had already looked through a couple of other potential birth mothers’ medical files for us.  Those adoption situations did not end up leading us to a match.  However, God had clearly positioned us in relationship with this doctor for an obvious reason… for our son.

Despite the fact our birth mother did not have a clean bill of health nor did she make healthy choices during the pregnancy, our doctor called me within a couple of hours to give us the go-ahead to move forward with the adoption.

Those next 72 hours were a whirlwind and so much of it is a blur.

However, there are some moments that stick out so vividly in my mind.  There were so many blessings and signs from the Lord.

That day, my precious (but now deceased) mother and my step-father drove the 3-hour drive to stay with the girls in our absence.  We had no idea how long we would be stuck in Florida and they would need to commit to caring for our girls for at least a couple of weeks.  ICPC mandated that once we left the hospital with our son, that we could be in Florida for up to 2 weeks or more as we would need to await a judge to grant us permission to cross state lines.

As we were making arrangements for the girls’ next two weeks of life, we did not even have to worry about where to stay in Florida.  Another of my precious friends arranged our hotel stay in Florida.

Additionally, that evening before we left to meet our son’s birth mother and our son, as I was frantically packing and preparing a schedule for my two sweet little girls, I heard the doorbell ring.

As I opened the door, I saw the hands and feet of Jesus right there on my doorstep in the form of about 15 sweet and dear friends of mine.

Each of these precious women entered my home carrying in her arms some sort of baby gear… diapers,baby bottles, pacifiers, bags and bags of boy clothing, burp cloths, blankets, a stroller, a pack n play, diaper bag, etc.  You name it, they brought it.  Ian and I had nothing to do or purchase for our son.  We just needed to get in the car and pick up that little baby boy.

My tribe knows me well.  Praise God that my tribe knows Jesus even more.

I was beyond overwhelmed their love and support and still am as I write this.

That very next day, Ian and I would depart from our home in the darkness of early morning and begin the ten-hour drive to meet our little boy and his selfless and desperately hurting birth mother.

What about you, Friends?  How has Jesus shown up to you in the form of community?  Would love to hear about your tribe.  We so need one another.

Our Adoption Story: Miscarriage (x7), Part 1

Our Adoption Story: Miscarriage (x7), Part 1

Through the Valley of Miscarriage & Infertility to the Mountain of Special Needs Adoption, Part 1

 

My journey into the world of special needs parenting has been a tough one.  If you are reading this post, I know you can relate.

We adopted our now 5 year-old son at birth back in December of 2013.  Almost one year prior to carrying our newborn little man out of the hospital, we had left a different hospital in our home town with empty arms and broken hearts.

In December of 2012 my husband and I joyfully entered my OBGYN’s office with eager anticipation to find out the sex of our third child.  Within an hour’s time our world came crashing down as I was whisked to the labor and delivery floor of the hospital to deliver my baby.  According to her measurements, her heart had stopped just 24 hours earlier.

My life would NEVER be the same.

Once in my hospital bed, I pleaded with my doctor to perform one last ultrasound as I had to be sure.  I still believed that this was just horrible error on the part of the ultrasound technician.  Surely, my baby girl was still alive.  I had felt her kicking just the night before.  There had to be some mistake.

My doctor graciously and lovingly complied with my request to reassure me that there was nothing that could be done to bring her back.  Of course, she was right.  It was not a dream, but it was a nightmare.

I was soon given medicine to induce delivery.  Time stood still.  It was as though every ounce of oxygen had been removed from the room and at the time, my life.  My precious hubby and I waited in that room for almost 48 hours before I delivered her lifeless body into the world.  The shock of seeing and holding her was too much to process.

My Ryan Adeline was not coming home to live an earthly life with the girls, Ian and I.  She had already left for her forever home to be with God.

I spent the next six months in a state of deep grief.

It took all of my energy just to function at a basic level.  We had two little girls, ages 7 and 4 at the time, who I had to care for.  I ceased all of my outside activities in order to preserve whatever mental and emotional energy I had in me in order to love and care for my family.

I woke up every morning, descended the stairway, made a cup of coffee and curl up in the worn-in corner of my couch.  That was my quiet time place.  My quiet time spot-on-the-couch was my place to meet with the Lord.  Every morning for six months, I would “journal pray” to the Lord for hours.  I would pour out my heart to the Lord asking all of the hard questions…

“Why, Lord?”

“What did I do to cause this?”

I poured out the pain to Him repeating over and over again,

“It hurts.  It hurts.  It hurts.”

Each morning, I would beg Him to kiss my Ryan Adeline’s sweet baby cheeks for me.

The amount of times that I pleaded with Him for our next child is too great to count.  I remember specifically writing these three words as a caveat as I prayed and prayed for our next child: “FROM MY BODY”.

“Lord, please prepare our home for our third child FROM MY BODY.”

Little did I know that He was preparing me for the adoption of our son.  Before I was able to receive the concept of adoption, however, we lost three more pregnancies and three more babies.

Any woman who has struggled with infertility knows the myriad of confusing and painful emotions that come with losing a child.

My precious cousin who just recently experienced this trauma herself described it as entering into a tribe of women who have gone before her and suffered the depth of pain that only the death of one’s unborn child brings.

This tribe of women know, however, that with deep pain comes the opportunity for incredible growth and an even greater longing for life.  Each of these women know that the cavern of excruciating anguish inside her soul can lead to an immense strength and an even greater passion to fight for her family.  What that strength and passion looks like is different for each woman.

Often times, as I experienced, she and her hubby will continue to try for that viable pregnancy.  Some are able to be successful and deliver a healthy baby.  Some precious ladies pee-on-a-stick over and over again only to stare at that dreaded “Not Pregnant” symbol.  Some of us ride the additional roller coaster that I know all too well.  She rides the high of a “Pregnant” symbol only to plummet when she begins bleeding a week or two later.

It often is the latter that leads some couples to adoption.  That was the case in our situation.

After about 9 months of “trying” and miscarrying, my husband and I opened our eyes to the fact that God had another plan to grow our family.  Apparently, He whispered that to me much earlier in the grief process but I hadn’t noticed until then.

“FROM.  MY.  BODY.”

Now that I think about it, I think He was loud and clear.  Our third child was going to enter our family through ADOPTION.

“God decided in advance to ADOPT us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.” -Ephesians 1:5

Adoption Story Part 2… Click Here

 

What about you, Friend?  Does your journey on the road of raising a Special Needs child include adoption or infertility?  Would love to hear some of your story.  Comment below.  🙂